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COOLIDGE — Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology will receive a little more than $400,000 through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan over the next three years to help pay for COVID-19-related issues.

The ESSER III grant application requires that the money be spent toward unfinished learning or learning loss, student academic, social, emotional and mental health needs, and prevention and mitigation strategies.

The CAVIT Governing Board on Jan. 5 approved the funds after being told by Superintendent Mike Glover where the money would be spent.

In a survey where 77 people responded, including 51 parents, one of the most important priorities at 59% was student social/emotional/mental well-being.

Forty-five percent also listed adding staff to provide support for academic learning loss as a priority. The survey also showed that 42% of the respondents listed additional instructional time for students as a priority.

To reach some of these priorities, CAVIT will spend 20% of the ESSER funds (about $80,000) to address learning loss.

According to the survey, 62% listed a summer credit recovery program as a desire. The survey respondents at 45% listed additional personnel for academic intervention and 42% wanted a summer enrichment program.

In addressing student needs during in-person instruction, Glover explained to the board that through e-rate school funding, the school had purchased 600 Chromebooks and 400 hotspot accounts to help students if the school were forced to go back to remote learning.

Through the next three years $84,000 of the ESSER funding will be for increased student achievement by providing extensive summer programming in June and July for students to make up work or to prepare for industry licensure examinations.

Included in the funding will be a $1,500 retention stipend for each of the next three years to staff if they complete the school year.

Glover said this cost is in support of maintaining staffing at needed levels to ensure high-quality services to meet student needs.

“We want to reward teachers for staying in the profession,” he said. “We need to fund ways to retain our staff at the end of each school year.”

CAVIT will also hire an additional janitor to address the increased workload caused by COVID-19 to better support staff, students and visitors.

One janitor will work during the school day, and the second janitor will work after the school day is complete. The extra cost will be $30,000 for each of the next three years.

The additional employees will also be eligible for CAVIT’s benefit package for medical, dental, vision and life insurance, along with required withholdings for Medicare, payroll taxes, Social Security, worker’s compensation and Arizona State Retirement costs. Over the next three years these benefit costs would amount to $73,875.

Through the ESSER funding CAVIT will purchase the use of wellness coaches to provide training sessions to address the emotional learning, mental health and wellness concerns of students and staff.

Teachers will also receive professional development training to provide innovative models that respond to each student’s needs. These two professional services, to be purchased, will cost $11,185 a year for the next three school years.

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Michael Maresh is a reporter for PinalCentral covering Coolidge news, education and sports.

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