Over $ 2.3 million in devices for students and teachers and over $ 460,000 in software for virtual learning were at the center of the Jackson-Madison County school system used to reopen schools in 2020 thanks to federal grants.
Dozens of projects aimed at addressing learning loss, technology, and other school projects made up the bulk of JMCSS’s $ 16.7 million grant spending in the following months.
With a third grant allocation totaling more than $ 37 million, JMCSS leaders say the district will spend more than the 20% required to tackle learning loss.
Board chairman James “Pete” Johnson said the learning loss did not start with the pandemic. Strategies to address this loss have traditionally lacked funding, he said.
“That’s why we need to direct our funding to helping children,” Johnson said.
But JMCSS also intends that the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Grant (ESSER) 3.0 be used for long overdue projects while reshaping student safety, prioritizing mental health, and supporting and by engaging families.
Here is an overview of some of the proposed projects:
Central office move, renovation
Superintendent Marlon King is delighted that the downtown JMCSS center will become the center of the central office and be renovated at Madison Academic, which is being rebuilt on the University of Memphis – Lambuth campus.
School construction: Madison Academic’s New Renovated CWY Campuses Will Impact Every High School
“We’re going to create a central location and try to provide so many resources for our families,” King said.
The Allen Avenue location is along the Jackson City Bus Line, making it accessible to families who depend on public transportation.
King’s vision is for the central office to be a command center that oversees every school building and campus with a dispatch for all activity, both academic and suspicious.
“Parents will know that we are keeping our schools, teachers and students safe,” he said.
A piece of Madison Academic would still be preserved once opened as a central office. King anticipates that there will be a wall commemorating the history of the school.
Madison’s new college campus is slated to open this fall, although work has been hampered by delays.
The hub would be surrounded by Oman arena and a multipurpose stadium, both proposed to come from ESSER 3.0.
King is already negotiating with the city to get the arena.
The future of the Oman arena
The city of Jackson owns the Oman Arena, located next to the Lane University campus, but could transfer the site to the school system, and JMCSS could benefit from the events held there.
Last year, Johnson suggested the school system use its relationship with the city and renovate the Oman Arena. School board member O’Neal Henley, who has since resigned, questioned the need to renovate Oman because Madison Academic students would use the UofM campus facilities once the new school is built. The renovated Jackson Central-Merry campus will have its own gym with a capacity of over 1,000 seats.
While the system doesn’t need Oman Arena, it’s an option to consider, Johnson said.
Multipurpose stadium with track
There is no centralized stadium and track in Jackson, and no JMCSS school currently has a regulatory eight-and-quarter-mile track. Discussions about such a facility had been discussed, but the North Side and South Side high school football stadiums were renovated instead. The track at Liberty High School has only six lanes and not the eight lanes needed to host a TSSAA track competition.
Former COO and Acting Superintendent Ray Washington said, if built, the equipment should be behind Madison Academic. The city of Jackson owns the area behind the campus, but the school system maintains it.
A stadium and track behind the current Madison campus would be ideal for youth athletics and high school games, Washington said in October 2019. It could operate there without having to acquire more land if it does. extends from east to west instead of north-south. like the football field is now, he initially suggested.
As superintendent, King included the track and the stadium in Community unity – COMMUNITY – initiative to bring four coveted projects to different parts of Jackson.
Other projects that the JMCSS leadership has also considered include:
Paraprofessionals for kindergarten, first grade: King and the board said the average literacy of students in those classes was no longer acceptable.
“If we start early and build a foundation by making sure our children’s skill level is much higher than before, then we’re going to see a change in our academic landscape,” King said.
Read more: Malesus Elementary under renovation already
Auditorium at the JCM: Closed in 2016 with Malesus, Jackson Central-Merry High is reopening as a 6-12 elementary school as part of a public-private partnership that is also building Madison. Its construction has been prioritized to ensure that students zoned for CWY have a building to attend this fall.
Jackson-Central Merry reopening: Gradual return to school scheduled for late August
The JMCSS leadership hopes to bring these students, with around 700 seats already filled, into the JCM through a gradual return to school by the end of August instead of September or October, as the leadership had originally proposed.
Some projects had to take place under ESSER 2.0, but will be submitted under Funding 3.0. These projects are:
$ 6.3 million for student laptops plus insurance to replace lost / damaged devices
Teacher’s Lounge Studio to promote teaching and learning, support mental health and fill learning gaps.
A mobile classroom known as the One-Room Schoolhouse will visit communities where students have limited access to after-school programs.
Interactive whiteboards for classrooms to support and advance teaching and learning and increase student engagement.
Learning Loss Competitive grants for teachers and leaders to apply for. Grants will vary from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000.
Initiatives approved under ESSER 2.0 include the completion of maintenance needs in 14 schools, the purchase of teachers’ laptops / tablets and teaching materials, the acquisition of teletherapy licenses for the needs of special education and the granting of bonuses to employees.
Helping Children Succeed
ESSER 3.0 includes intervention areas 2.0 as well as recovery, meeting facility needs and deferred maintenance, public health coordination and protocol, high quality teaching materials in mathematics, early literacy and in curriculum.
The ESSER 3.0 application is expected on August 1. None of the CARES or ESSER funding required board approval, but King and his administration wanted the board’s advice on how the money should be spent. Although the money is allocated to the district, the JMCSS must apply for the funds and submit a detailed plan which must be approved by the state.
Once ESSER 3.0 funds are approved, JMCSS will transfer the money to its budget this summer.
“I am passionate about what we do for the children in our community,” King said at the council’s spring retreat.
Lasherica Thornton is the educational reporter for the Jackson Sun. Contact her at 731-343-9133 or by email at[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @LashericaT