Johnson City Schools offers survey for stakeholders to decide how stimulus funds to be spent

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Johnson City School District has released a survey asking stakeholders for input when it comes to allocating a portion of the $13.8 million in funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III).

At least 20% or $2.7 million of the ESSER funds must go toward students and their potential learning loss due to the pandemic, according to Dr. Robbie Anderson, director of accountability and school improvement for the Johnson City School District.

“We need to explore ways that we can support students with their academic needs their emotional needs their social needs, and there is a requirement in the grant that you have meaningful opportunities for stakeholders to provide input to the district,” she said.

The district has held a few focus groups already, but Anderson pointed out that the survey is the easiest way to hear from the entire community.

“We held a focus group with a group of teacher leaders through our curriculum council, we have held another focus group with our elementary principals, but we wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity to reach out into the community on a larger basis. And one way to do that was to push out this survey that you can find online and it’s not that long of a survey because we know sometimes it can be exhausting to click open a survey and see is like 25 pages or whatever this is a very simple survey seven questions but it does have a couple of open-ended response opportunities so that you can explain your point of view if you do not feel that one of the questions adequately addressed what you felt would be a need for your child or for children in the community,” Anderson said.

The grant providing the ESSER funds opened about a week ago and the grant application is due by Aug. 1. The application also requires the district to ask for public input.

“We aren’t going to rely solely on the survey. We have already had a couple of focus group experiences and we plan to allow other opportunities for some discussion, but this was a way that our district felt. And it’s not a requirement that you have a survey so this was a way our district felt like we could reach out into the community, in a very broad manner, and tried to touch as many stakeholders as possible,” Anderson explained.

She said everyone had a unique experience during the COVID-era, and so the survey should reflect that.

“I think it’s really important for us to capture all of those perspectives before we sat down and began to plan and to decide how we’re going to use this money. We are able to disaggregate the responses that come in so that we can look at student responses we can look at parent responses we can look at teacher and educator responses. So I think it’ll be really interesting to see if there are a lot of overlapping concerns from group to group or to see if there are indeed some very unique perspectives depending upon the category,” she said.

To Anderson, access for the majority of stakeholders, is key.

“If you’re really trying to include as many people as possible and give as many people a voice as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to push out a survey that is easy to access and easy to use,” she said.

She added that if a stakeholder did not have access to a computer or internet, they could go to the district central office and conduct the seven-question survey there.

To complete the survey, CLICK HERE.

Kathy Hall, chairman of the Johnson City Board of Education, told News Channel 11 that she wished these funds were not temporary, so better services and programs could become part of the fabric of the school system.

“I’m really excited about helping students that maybe fell a little behind during the pandemic to catch up to their peers. I’m anxious to see some special programs come in and help our students succeed and move on from the pandemic,” Hall said.

She added that she thought the school district was already doing a great job of taking care of the students who suffered learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses for the survey are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 11.

Follow News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais on Facebook and Twitter for news updates.

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