FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors Tuesday approved the submission of an application for a $2.4 million COVID-19 emergency relief grant.

In a presentation on spending plans to the board, Sue Pratt, coordinator of coronavirus relief funds, explained the grant, titled Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER II, would fund financial needs incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased demand for social workers and new shelters to encourage outdoor classrooms.

The district would direct $1.40 million to “student support,” which Pratt said is “our top priority.” This 58% of the grant would be used to hire two additional social workers, one of whom will “focus on drugs and alcohol counseling” and two interventionist teachers at Mt. Blue Middle School and High School to support students struggling in the classroom. This area of the grant would also pay for student laptops and the supplies needed for a “full return,” which interim Superintendent Monique Poulin said the district is anticipating for the 2021-22 school year.

Another $683,581 would be directed toward “staff support” to bring on seven full-time substitute teachers, nurses at both the Mt. Blue Campus and Cape Cod Hill School, and laptop purchases for the K-12 staff.

An additional $50,000 would fund a “grant coordinator” to “finalize” ESSER I and II and “write the ESSER III, which is a $5.2 million grant,” according to Pratt.

The district plans to direct the remaining $274,253 toward “operation and maintenance of plant.” This would fund “very much needed projects,” according to Pratt, such as outside eating spaces and classrooms by way of new “multipurpose roof shelters” at Cascade Brook School, Mt. Blue Middle School and Mt. Blue High School.

These roof shelters would “help address some of the needs for a well-ventilated space (where) children can take a mask break” white being protected from the elements. Pratt also said this cost center would fund the ongoing rental of storage units that have been “very helpful at trying to create as much space in our classrooms as we can.”

Without any objections from directors, Poulin gave Pratt the go-ahead to submit the grant application.

In other business, the board also passed motions to set the RSU 9 proposed budget at $3.89 million and the adult education budget at $447,406 and send both figures to the polls in a budget referendum on June 8, 2021.

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