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Fall 2022 Update
In the fall of 2022, New Hampshire published a financial transparency tool to show how school districts have used their COVID relief funds. Although opportunities for advocacy around how these funds will be spent have mostly passed, we have updated this page with a brief summary of what we found during the week of November 17th, 2022. Please note that the tool is updated weekly and we encourage you to use the transparency tool if you require current numbers.
Financial Transparency Tracking Tool
Community Engagement Recap
What we found:
- Laconia hosted a strategic plan meeting on November 16, 2022 to discuss the school district’s strengths, weakness, and obstacles students may face.
- According to the New Hampshire Financial Transparency tool, Laconia School District’s focus is building maintenance (51.9%), Staffing (32.1%), and technology (7.2%).
- The Laconia School District states that it will use expert educators to identify and address student learning gaps due to remote and hybrid learning. It states that it will offer after and during school programming as well as vacation and summer learning labs for targeted tutoring and programming. To support this goal, it will hire additional staff.
- The Laconia School District plans to partner with a local community college to support career and college planning.
We were unable to identify any programs specifically devoted to students with disabilities or other marginalized groups. We were unable to find plan updates* or current opportunities for stakeholder engagement.
What Can You Do?
A requirement of this federal funding is to engage in ongoing meaningful communication with the public. This does not appear to be happening in Laconia.
- Ask your your school board representative, school principal, or Superintendent Stephen Tucker whether any opportunities are planned for families and stakeholders to provide input on the ongoing use of these funds and if they aren’t, request that such opportunities are made available in the near future. You can use the links above to address your letter appropriately.
- Provide input on how the Laconia school district should be spending these funds. We have created a Template Letter with some disability-related priorities that you can use or reference.
What we know
- The Laconia School District is receiving $14 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The grant requires that 20% of this (or $2.8 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 accessed via the district hompage at https://www.laconiaschools.org/. Assistant Superintendent Amy Hinds informed us that an updated version of the plan is scheduled to be posted soon.
What we found
- Although Laconia’s funding plan states ‘All learners will have equal access to use these funds, including Special Education, Title I Students, ESOL Students, and Free and Reduced lunch Students’, we were unable to identify any specific programs or resources to support these students. The district did not respond to our numerous requests for more detailed information.
- We could not identify programs or resources that address students’ emotional and behavioral challenges in a manner that will support students’ success and achievement.
- Assistant Superintendent Amy Hinds told us that families can provide input through parent meetings, school board meetings, and via survey, and said these are ongoing efforts. We were not provided specific details about these opportunities.
What we recommend
- Increase opportunities for stakeholder engagement:
- 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 their input during the COVID-19 pandemic, 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).
- 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 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.
Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to
eliminating barriers for people with disabilities across New Hampshire.
DRC is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for New Hampshire
and has authority under federal law to conduct investigations in cases of probable abuse or neglect.
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