Stimulus funds in action

As we enter the 2009-2010 school year, we are also entering the first Stimulus year for our agency. At this time we have far more questions about the amount and guidelines related to Stimulus funding than we have answers. The agency is cautiously moving forward with plans for the use of the funds while at the same time ever mindful of the fact that the funds–and the programs and services we are able to utilize them for–will last at the most two years.

Here is the progress to-date regarding how the money is being put to use:

  • Last October, it appeared that budget shortfalls would require
    that in the spring of 2009 up to 14 positions vacated due to
    resignations/retirements would go unfilled. Thanks to stimulus funding, the agency has been able to fill all 14 positions.
  • Audiology equipment upgrades that may have taken years to purchase in a piecemeal manner have now been ordered.
  • The agency is attempting to employ additional Early ACCESS Service Coordinators and Early Childhood providers.  That work is in progress and the search is on for quality available candidates.
  • The agency has employed four instructional coaches in reading and math. More coaches are being sought.
  • Support for the Iowa Core Curriculum is increasing through the reassignment of existing staff to this work.  Staff will be hired to cover the gaps left by those being reassigned.
  • Support has been increased for Instructional Decision Making (IDM) professional development.
  • Schools In Need of Assistance (SINA) designee schoools in AEA 267 will receive expanded support.
  • The agency has employed an additional staff member to assist with English Language Learning (ELL) work.
  • A professional development program for administrators in school technology has been initiated. This is being done in partnership with Iowa State University and leading expert Scott McLeod of the CASTLE program.
  • The agency is providing additional staff to participate in statewide initiatives in Learning Supports, Positive Behavior Supports (PBS), Challenging Behaviors, and Instructional Coaches training.

The federal stimulus program is providing us with a unique opportunity to provide more services than we otherwise could have.  The rules, procedures and reporting requirements are demanding.  We will proceed with caution, focus on the federal mandated goals, and do our best to build the internal and external capacity of educators so even after the funds are gone, our ability to positively impact student achievement remains high.

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