We were unable to identify specific programs devoted to students with disabilities or other marginalized groups, or focused on transition planning. We were unable to find plan updates* or current opportunities for stakeholder engagement.
What we know
- The Rochester School District is receiving $18 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The grant requires that 20% of this (or $3.6 million) is specifically allocated towards ‘learning loss recovery’ which is understood to include special education supports and services.
- The district’s original plan outlining how it hoped to spend the funds can be downloaded from the district website at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gIfhaHe7bq68PKS20PxhCr7-Lt6wjBuK/view.
What we found
- Although Rochester’s funding plan mentions ‘addressing needs of all students including… students with disabilities’, no details are provided as to specific programs or services to support these students.
- We could not identify programs or resources that:
- Target students with disabilities or students who belong to marginalized communities.
- Promote the delivery of high-quality, individualized school to post-secondary school transition services
What we recommend
- On February 15, 2022, we sent the district a letter with specific recommendations for meaningful stakeholder engagement. We have not received a response. Our recommendations included the following:
- Replace the hyperlink on the district website currently leading to the original RSD ARP ESSER III use of funds plan³ with a hyperlink to a page containing up-to-date information regarding the ongoing process of fund allocation as well as a list of ways for stakeholders to provide input.
- Hold dedicated public meetings for discussing ARP ESSER III fund allocation, at least every six months and upon any major changes or additions to the use of funds plan.
- Provide alternative and accessible ways for the public to provide ongoing input, such as an online survey, dedicated email address, etc. Make this information available and easy to find on the district website, school websites, and other easily accessible locations.
- Publicize opportunities for consultation and ways for families to find up-to-date information via social media, school email, and other relevant platforms.
- Designate an individual or team within the district who stakeholders may contact with questions or comments regarding the district’s use of ESSER III funds (e.g. school board members, district grants manager, etc.). List the contact information for this individual or team on the school website including both a telephone number and email address – ideally, on a virtual hub of information pertaining to ESSER funds (as recommended above).
- Download our letter to the Rochester School District: Recommendations for Meaningful Stakeholder Consultation Regarding ARP ESSER III Funds
- Rochester’s plan should distribute funding in an equitable manner to assist the students who need it the most, including students with disabilities. A letter with our specific recommendations regarding equitable funding is available here.
*Six Month Updates
School districts were required to provide the NH Department of Education (NHDOE) with an update of how they are using these funds by February 23, 2022. This deadline was recently moved to March 9, 2022. On March 9th, we reached out to the NH DOE requesting access to these six month updates but were told it would take a while for them to be posted publicly. We will continue to monitor their status and will update our analysis accordingly.