The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has provided a unique opportunity for school systems to implement positive changes for students, while also creating jobs and stimulating the economy. In the spring of 2009, Cannon County school officials learned that we would be receiving stimulus funds in several areas, with the largest portion of stimulus funds being earmarked for special education programming.
Cannon County has received over $500,000.00 in these funds for students ages 6-21, and over $9,000.00 for students ages 3-5.
Fortunately for our school district, officials also learned that a portion of this increased funding could be used to offset costs already burdening the general fund for Cannon County Schools.
Thus, a good portion of the stimulus funds actually picked up costs that were previously assumed by the system’s general fund, for one calendar year; this has allowed for some innovative positions to be created (such as the instructional coach at Cannon County High School) and new materials (such as science and math manipulatives for the middle grades)to be purchased for students in the general curriculum.
So how is Cannon County investing the remainder of the stimulus money? One critical position that has been created is that of Transition Coordinator. Alice Parker, who has taught special education classes in this county for over 20 years, is now based at Cannon County High School in this position. Her role for the next two years will be to expand transition planning and programming for middle and high school students with disabilities, in an effort to help more students plan for a productive future after graduation.
Stimulus funds have also been used to hire a couple part-time assistants to work with individual high-needs students. Using these one-time funds for personnel, of course, creates a challenge for the school district to determine how these positions will be funded in the future.
Special education stimulus funds are also being used to provide additional staff training and to purchase instructional materials and equipment which could not have otherwise been provided for students with disabilities in our county.
Although this additional funding is only available for use through the end of the 2010-2011 school year, Cannon County school officials are making every effort to ensure that it is being spent in ways to best benefit the students in our county.
Director of Special Education
Cannon County Schools