PCSD to focus on literacy, SEL with new $2.4 million grant
February 7, 2024 at 10:03 p.m.
During a kindergarten literacy lesson at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in December 2022, Valentina Alvarez Espinol and Aiden Ortega select animal books to read. The Port Chester School District was awarded a $2.4 million RECOVS grant from the State of New York to address pandemic-related learning loss, money that administrators say will likely be used to enhance literacy.
(File Photo/Westmore News)
Four years since COVID-19 struck, the effects of the global pandemic still linger in educational settings.
Per an announcement from Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday, Jan. 31, Port Chester Schools is one of 50 districts and BOCES divisions across the state that have been awarded monies to address ongoing pandemic-related struggles. With the state awarding $100 million in grants, the districts are being provided additional resources to work on learning loss and mental health support.
“New York is making historic investments to ensure all our students are on the path towards success,” the governor stated in a press release. “This funding will help our teachers and school staff pinpoint where students have fallen behind and provide students with crucial resources needed to support their mental health, especially after the pandemic.”
Of the benefitting institutions, Port Chester Schools is one of 15 to be awarded a Learning Loss Recover from COVID School Program Grant, or RECOVS.
“The RECOVS grant funding underscores our commitment to fostering equitable access to education opportunities and mental health services for all students,” stated State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. “By addressing lost instructional time and prioritizing student well-being, we aim to create an inclusive educational environment that empowers every learner to thrive in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the governor’s office press release, the funding is intended to help districts expand student access to academic recovery professionals, improve the capacity for educational staff to identify learning loss, implement evidence-based academy recovery practices and ensure financial stability is set up for these opportunities.
“This was a heavy lift and I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the hard work of Dr. Carroll and our team,” said Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez in a statement, referring to Deputy Superintendent Colleen Carroll. “We are thrilled about the opportunities that this grant will create for our students.”
Port Chester Schools is slated to receive $2.4 million in RECOVS funding.
“I am especially pleased that several school districts that I represent, the Port Chester School District, the Yonkers School District and districts that were part of the Southern Westchester BOCES application, will receive shares of this funding,” said State Senator Shelley Mayer, who chairs the education committee. “With these grants, more schools will be able to secure the resources they desperately need to address learning loss and mental health challenges to New York’s students.”
Currently, Henriquez said the school district is awaiting further guidance and information from the State Education Department before concrete plans for the funding can be formulated. It’s anticipated, however, that Port Chester Schools will be focusing on literacy and social-emotional learning (SEL) across the elementary schools.
The district plans to use the grant to extend literacy support outside the classroom and create opportunities for teachers to work with students in the field beyond the traditional K-5 reading block. Additionally, they’d like to provide “opportunities for SEL support to be provided to students in small groups,” Henriquez wrote.
At this point, it’s unclear when the district will have access to the RECOVS funding. The original grant, the superintendent explained, implied a timeframe of November 2023 to October 2025, but the district was only recently notified about the monies.
In the upcoming weeks, she anticipates more information on the funding flow will be available.