Champ’s tentative plan for Covid-19 relief money: additional teachers, building-level subs, one psychologist


The board of education Wednesday heard a draft plan for using the more than $800,000 the school district received as part of the federal Covid-19 relief fund for schools and localities.

The new diversity, equity and inclusion policy written by the cultural competence committee also received its first reading.

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ said a tentative approach for deploying the bailout funds would include the hiring of additional teachers that could serve as interventionists to “target demonstrated academic need” in certain grades, additional building-level substitute teachers who may additionally work as interventionists, a psychologist at the elementary level and additional clinical support at the secondary level, and a position to assist with contact tracing.

Julia Chung, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, said the district is looking at offering an academic learning period in high school schedules to provide struggling students with additional assistance. Chung also said the district is considering co-teaching for the elementary level and will start with one class at Prospect Hill in fifth grade next year. Depending on the success of the program, it may expand to different grades and schools in order to support students.

“The need that our students displayed was a lot,” Chung said.

Champ said the reopening task force met and discussed a full return to school for the next school year, including the reinstitution of the regular schedule. An email was sent to parents later in the week outlining that 2021-22 school-year plan, including the discontinuation of virtual learning in the fall. The draft schedule for next year includes six early release Wednesdays for professional development where students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. and the addition of more holidays.

The diversity, equity and inclusion policy drafted by the cultural competence committee received a first reading by Trustee Eileen Miller: “Our goal is to increase access, decrease opportunity gaps and eliminate equity gaps for our students and in our community in order to promote educational equity across Pelham.” The policy states the district is committed to developing a meaningful curriculum, providing resources and supports to both students and teachers, ensuring access and eliminating barriers and ensuring family and community engagement and inclusivity through translated communications.

According to the policy, the district will use data to remove inequitable policies, employ programs that will enhance student self-identity, build the capacity of students to model the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and maintain and support a dedicated committee to enforce the policy.

A policy receives three readings before the board votes on it.

Additional steps related to the recommendations from the district’s racial equity audit will be discussed at the next board meeting, Champ said.

Trustee John Brice, reporting for the facilities committee, said the New York State Department of Transportation owns the parking lot area at Glover Field and is looking to change the terms of the lease. He also called for the creation of a capital reserve fund to prioritize future plans and set aside money for projects.

“I think that’s a really important thing to be doing,” said Trustee Jess Young. “I fully support that, and I think it’s really important that we’re planning to maintain our facilities in the future so that we can continue to provide the excellent education that we do to our students.”

Miller read a policy on co-curricular activities, existing district rules that have been updated due to Covid-19. It states that students will be able to participate in extracurriculars even if struggling academically with modifications in order for balance.

Retirees from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years were celebrated at the meeting, presented with gifts and parting words by school administrators. (The full list is here.)

Champ congratulated four Pelham Memorial High School science research students who recently represented PMHS at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Board President Jessica DeDomenico presented seniors Jack Dougherty, Daniel Dusevic, Brett Bober and Lucia Lavallee with certificates, the winners being four of twenty total students to be recognized at ISEF.

The new Hutchinson School has received a new address, 48 Fifth Street, said Jim Hricay, assistant superintendent for business.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for June 16 at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on YouTube Live.