COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Leaders and teachers from Ohio’s largest school district are wrapping up the ‘20-’21 school year by looking ahead to the next.
This week, Columbus City Schools administration and the Columbus Education Association reached several agreements outlining conditions and expectations for the upcoming year. The additions clarify points outside of the existing collective bargaining agreement.
Negotiations took several weeks, but spokespeople for both groups said they’re satisfied with the outcomes. The agreements focus on helping students readjust to in-person learning and cope with the challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wanted to make sure teachers were included in the process because teachers are on the frontlines, they know what to do,” said CEA President John Coneglio.
One memorandum of understanding outlines the district’s new digital learning platform called BlendEd. Students PreK-12 enrolled in the program will be able to learn both on-site and remotely. They will have access to full-time CCS teachers and supplemental support staff.
A second agreement details how the district will invest federal pandemic relief funds. CCS received three rounds of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds totaling close to $450 million, some of which can be used until September 2024.
“The District administration and CEA are committed to working together to identify additional strategies and needs that can be addressed through the use of these federal funds,” CCS administration said in a statement to NBC4.
Among the priorities the districted listed:
- Infrastructure Improvements, including HVAC upgrades in 16 school buildings
- Technology to equip each student with computers and access to internet
- Professional Development addressing issues of racial disparity, equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Learning Recovery and Support, which will focus on bridging learning loss during the pandemic and hire 100 counselors and literacy support staff to helps students recover academically, socially and emotionally
“[Counselors] not only are helping kids get into college, helping them with their transcripts, scheduling, all sorts of different things … they have huge caseloads,” Coneglio said. “There’s been a lot of social-emotional problems our kids have been having. And our counselors are there to help.”
CCS plans to bring students back for five full in-person days this fall, with an option for families to continue learning remotely. Over the summer, the district is offering additional academic assistance and several vaccine clinics for students and families.