By Linda Cicoira

“Masks are very important,” Superintendent Chris Holland of Accomack County Public Schools announced at Tuesday night’s school board session. “Kids are looking forward to seeing their friends” in the upcoming school term. “The public has to understand the adults, the students, have to be safe.”  Holland said mandates will be followed.

One staff member last week was diagnosed with COVID, reported Tonya Martin, coordinator of school health services. Nine out of 10 people are expected to be safe from COVID, if fully vaccinated, she said in her figures from the region.

A last-minute public hearing regarding the $13.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be held next week just in time for the Sept. 1, deadline for applications. The hearing is set for 6 p.m., Aug. 24, at Metompkin Elementary School. School officials have been aware of the deadline since April.

Two parents addressed the board about the need for an in-person calculus teacher at Nandua High School. Last year, they said, students struggled with virtual learning, which was used at all the high schools. This year, the plan is for virtual learning at Nandua High, by the in-person teacher at Chincoteague High. The parents said another well-respected and capable teacher is available for in-person instruction of calculus at Nandua. They urged the division to hire the teacher.

Brandyn Burkholder, supervisor of food services, praised the division’s cafeteria employees for their hard work during the pandemic. They worked long hours, sometimes preparing four meals a day, with all being safely prepared, he said. More than 590,000 meals were served, despite food shortages and other issues. All health department inspections were at 100 percent, said Burkholder. He later added, “You cannot educate a hungry child.”

Finance Director Beth Onley discussed American Rescue Plan funds. She said that while the division must apply for the full13.3 million dollars, they are expecting to receive 8.9 million dollars. The remaining amount is anticipated after the following summer when the application process is completed. Twenty percent of the funds, or 2,675,403 dollars, must be designated for learning loss.

Onley went over the division’s plan for spending the money. The learning loss section totaled $5,774,424. A breakdown showed $657,921 for one full-time substitute per building for three years; $308,995 for an instructional assistant at each elementary and middle school for two years; $1,250,050 for two instruction assistants at each school with one at Tangier for three years; $1,130,370 for after-school stipends for three years; $996,184 for summer school stipends for three years; $356,099 for two business teachers for three years; $168,297 for two part-time Spanish and a part-time Creole translator for three years; $435,708 for an additional assistant principal at Kegotank and Metompkin schools for three years; $233,800 for two mobile book buses to travel to communities to focus on learning and engagement gaps; and $237,000 for outdoor learning pavilions at five elementary schools.

It includes $132,871 for two cafeteria monitors at each of the elementary and middle schools for two years; $521,055 for health clinic assistive personnel upgrade to full time; $65,392 for full-time health assistant for three years; $100,000 for separate clinic into sick and well for five schools; $54,657 for spraying buses for two years; $40,000 for additional interior bus camera; $634,921 for part time custodians; $135,404 for disinfectant for electrostatic sprayers and cleaning for two years; $64,771 for disposable Face Masks for two years; and $28,287 for commercial washer and dryer for middle and high schools.

Also there was $468,064 for playground equipment and mulch;  $8,066 for 16 UV water coolers; $7,000 for outside bleachers at each middle school; $50,000 for a grandstand at Arcadia High; $91,554 for consumables for Child Nutrition Services for two years; $79,330 for audio/Visual upgrade for Metompkin Elementary board meetings; $25,000 for physical education equipment at 11 schools; $35,000 for band instruments and PPE and sanitation; and $20,000 for chorus PPE and sanitation.

The list included $300,000 for 360 outside camera on bus stop arms; $120,000 for bus shop office with DMV testing area; $185,591 for child nutrition services equipment; $420,000 for an addition to the technology center; $700,000 for bell/clock/intercom system upgrades; $97,459 for software license for cloud meetings for three years; and $45,000 for an internet server.

About $710,000 was listed for chillers at AES and MES, chiller at Arcadia High’s cafeteria, chiller for Chincoteague’s practice gym, an air handler at Arcadia High’s cosmetology department, and ventilation in HVAC and building trades at Nandua High.

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Additional mental health counselors for three years were estimated at $172,069. Two additional guidance counselors for three years were listed at $362,061 and extending elementary guidance counselors contracts for 10 days for three years was listed at $55,769.

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