The Paterson school district is receiving $106.7 million in American Rescue Act funds. School officials outlined a plan to spend the money late last month.
Business administrator Richard Matthews said bulk of the funds, 54 percent, is being allocated towards improving school facilities. He said 38 percent is going towards reversing learning loss, 5 percent towards personnel, 2 percent towards Covid-19 response, and 1 percent towards others.
Matthews said ventilation system upgrades, modifications, and replacements; air conditioning and replacement of windows and shades are among the facilities upgrades.
To reverse learning loss, the district will hire five behavior analysts, a math teacher, two master teachers of autism, a special education teacher at Norman S. Weir School, four guidance counselors, two substance abuse counselors, said Matthews. He said the district will also spend money on tutoring, design makerspaces throughout the district, and purchase Promethean boards for all classrooms.
The business administrator said for Covid-19 response the district is buying thermal scanners, 60 laptops to operate the thermal cameras, communication boards, and computer upgrades.
He said the district is hiring personnel for 14 special education classes. There are also 20 new instructional aides for 13 classes, 2 high school athletic nurses, a bus driver, 10 teachers to reduce class sizes, 5 pathway coordinators, and a compliance officer.
“To keep them sustainable, our plan is to fund them through a three-year period,” said Matthews. He said the $6 million new expenses will be moved into the budget over a three-year period. He said, without elaborating, fund balance and other long-term savings will cover the fresh personnel expenses without.
Other expenditures will fund tutoring and afterschool busing for special education students, fund bilingual magnet elementary and high school, transportation, drug screening, passenger van, and social justice stipend positions.
School board member Jonathan Hodges asked whether the bilingual funding is going to School 15. Assistant superintendent Joanna Tsimpedes said the district is expanding the Bengali programs at School 5 and Don Bosco Technology.
Matthews said three community forums were hosted to gather residents’ input on where the funds should be spent.