Socorro School District staff members will all be taking home an extra $5,000. The district will be paying teachers and staff a $5,000 retention and recruitment payment, funded by the $6.7 million the district was allotted in American Rescue Plan funds.
Superintendent Ron Hendrix said he is hopeful payments will begin mid-October. The Socorro school board unanimously approved using the ARP funds for the retention and recruitment payments. The district still needs approval from the state on its ARP application.
The district is not required to spend the federal money on Cottonwood Valley Charter School, said Hendrix, but has dedicated a portion of the ARP funds for the school, so charter school teachers and staff will be included in the $5,000 payments.
Since the payments are for both retention and recruitment, the $5,000 will also be available for new hires. The district is actively trying to hire a culinary arts teacher, a band director and an assistant principal.
Assistant Superintendent Denise Cannon said she is hopeful the new four-day school week will also be a morale booster for teachers and staff.
“If you don’t take care of your people then you’re not taking care of your kids,” said Hendrix.
The school district has two years to spend the $6.7 million in ARP funding.
Approximately $300,000 in ARP funds will be used to create three new positions for the two-year duration of the funding: a technology person, a social worker or counselor, and a school resource officer. The district has two technology employees plus a director, so the position will add a third person to help teachers and staff with technology issues. The district already has a social worker for the high school and middle school, but the counselor for the elementary schools spends three days at Parkview Elementary, half a day at San Antonio Elementary, and half a day at Midway Elementary. The additional counselor or social worker should relieve some of the burdens off of the district’s existing counseling staff, said Cannon. The school resource officer will be employed at the high school.
The money is also going toward replacing HVAC units, sanitizing supplies, training on minimizing the spread of disease, purchasing new digital devices, reaching out to different student subgroups, and creating more outdoor learning spaces.
The outdoor learning spaces will be shaded areas with seating, work areas and whiteboards. Students do not have to wear face masks in outdoor learning spaces, said Cannon. Construction of the outdoor classrooms should begin within the next month. Each school requested different things in their outdoor spaces. Parkview will get three to four outdoor classrooms and San Antonio and Midway will each get one.
There are also funds set aside just in case the schools need to do long-term closures due to COVID-19.