Democrats argue for federal funding for schools
United States Senator Robert Menendez joined Congressman Bill Pascrell (CD9), Garfield Mayor Richard Rigoglioso, American Federation of New Jersey Teachers President Donna Chiera, Superintendent of Schools Anna Sciacca, and teachers in the school district to highlight the benefits of federal funding for schools. After a short tour of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, officials took to the school’s computer lab to discuss how $3 billion from the US bailout, CARES Act and Emergency Assistance for Elementary and Secondary Schools (ESSER) have been applied.
The main purpose of these funds is to improve and support beleaguered schools, faculty, staff, students and administrations to face the myriad challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic, especially regarding the academic, social and mental health needs of students, all of which have been severely impacted over the past two years.
“Seeing the kids back in the classroom,” said Senator Menendez, “one can’t help but feel inspired by the stories they shared with me: stories of perseverance and courage. You really get the impression how difficult COVID was for our teachers, our students and our families, having to adapt to online learning, moving to hybrid systems, having to overcome all kinds of challenges in order to provide education high quality to our children. I am just blown away by the resilience and courage that our school communities have shown…As we come together to talk about securing federal funds to support our schools and help them get back on their feet and thrive, today’ today is a proud moment. We see firsthand how those federal dollars make a real and meaningful difference in the classroom.
The Garfield School District received approximately $13 million to use for upgrades, renovations and additional support.
The senator outlined a number of projects the money will be used for, including HVAC upgrades, a point that resonated with everyone in the room which was, in fact, uncomfortably warm during the conference. Press.
“These federal funds are an example of our primary duty as elected leaders,” Menendez said, “mobilizing the resources of our federal government to support every student, every teacher, and every family who calls New Jersey home. We should not complicate already difficult tasks, we should not contribute to the stress of a new school year, we should make things easier, open doors and opportunities, so that we can fulfill the promise of a great quality education . It is the birthright, I believe, of every child in America and certainly one of the things we cherish here in New Jersey as a state.
Congressman Pascrell said he visited Garfield three times over the weekend and spoke with civil engineers from New Jersey and New York who were looking for infrastructure help. .
“I am so happy that Garfield has spent the money and effort to ensure a great STEM program. STEM is our future,” Pascrell said. “We spread the word that science should not be avoided.” Pascrell said the engineers told him they needed staff to carry out the upcoming infrastructure work and that the opportunity should not be missed. He said work opportunities will come as well-paying jobs and the CARES Act has brought valuable school resources to the fore. “For Garfield, $963,000 is not negligible. The CARES Act does the job. The Garfield Public School District also received $3,000,734 in other funding, coronavirus aid that went to the school.
Pascrell hailed Menendez’s triumphant efforts in a sharply divided Senate. “Remember, he’s in a situation where it’s a 50/50 vote. At least we have 5 as an advantage in the Chamber, we are not too much better in terms of pluralities.
Pascrell thanked the administration, faculty and staff for all their hard work during the pandemic. He also pointed out that the full scope of COVID has yet to be understood. “Recovering for COVID has been difficult. We don’t know the consequences. I tell you now. We are just learning. We have lost over 34,600 New Jerseyans to COVID. The economy collapsed and schools were closed. The public entrusted Congress and the President to help us recover, and we are on the road to recovery.
The congressman offered an optimistic assessment of the current situation, citing lower gas prices, lower unemployment and more. “President Biden has added ten million jobs since becoming president. Most everyone who lost their job during the pandemic is back to work. It’s phenomenal. You can’t reduce the United States, you just can’t. Congress has enacted truly historic laws in a very short time. »
Pascrell cited the US $1.9 trillion bailout package. “The 9e The congressional district received $341 million and Garfield more than $9 million himself. This aid has kept our communities afloat, expanded vaccines, supported small businesses and invigorated our public spaces. Congress then enacted an additional $2.5 trillion in pandemic relief and $60 billion is flowing to schools across America. Phenomenal! Good comes out of bad all the time. We have calibrated our way of managing health in America. That’s what we’re doing right now. »
The money, Pascrell said, was put to good use. “I don’t blow smoke as you know. I’m very confident that this school district will be one of the best in the state, I’m putting money into it,” the congressman added.
With new iPads, smart boards and 3D printers in schools, Pascrell said the best is yet to come for the Garfield District.
When Chiera approached the podium to speak, she noted that she was watching the body language of everyone present, reacting to the warmth of the room. “Everyone in this room is dying because there’s no air conditioning. But I have to remind you that there are hundreds of thousands of teachers across this state, and across the country, who are not just in this room for an hour-long press conference, but who are in these classrooms all day with twenty or thirty very busy people. students. The money we received from the federal government will help. It starts to remove that kind of barrier to learning… if the conditions for learning aren’t optimal, the education isn’t optimal.
Chiera said that although the money received has been useful, it must be used intelligently so that its value is maximized. She praised the school board and superintendent for listening to staff during the pandemic, reminding the public that “there was no playbook” and that all teachers and staff had to scramble to get along. adapt to unprecedented teaching conditions. “I’ll tell you, the kindergarten teacher and the kindergarten teacher had no idea when they entered the profession, that one day they would teach the lessons online. The educational staff were not only at the rise to the occasion and stayed in touch with the students, and made sure they were successful…Then they returned to the new normal. No one knew what the new normal would be. But again, they are adapted and they continue to adapt every day.
Since then, she said, teachers have had to seek to address students’ mental and emotional concerns in the wake of the pandemic.
ESSER money, school officials said, has been applied to address many of those concerns, from hiring more counselors to expanding other resources to address challenges and unique needs that were a direct result of the pandemic.
“I started my career as an elected member of the school board,” Menendez said, “so I appreciate what you and your colleagues are doing for Garfield. It’s a labor of love.
As the senator wrapped up the lecture, the teachers presented him and Congressman Pascrell with school t-shirts as a token of their appreciation.
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