May 14, 2021
Dear Albany Community,
The good news this week is that COVID cases have continued to drop in the Bay Area and throughout California, with San Mateo County moving into the Yellow Tier (Minimal Risk) and Santa Clara possibly following it next week. With the steady improvement in the COVID-19 case rate, the Board of Education will be considering a resolution at their next meeting on May 25 to formalize the District’s commitment to fully reopen in the fall. Speaking of next fall, be sure and mark your calendars—August 17 is the first day of school of the 2021-22 school year!
Expanded Vaccination Eligibility
I personally encourage all eligible individuals to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The degree to which our school community is vaccinated will have a huge impact on keeping our schools open next fall. Just this week, vaccine eligibility expanded to include children 12 years of age and older. As of today, walk-in vaccinations are available at the Buchanan Street parking lot of Golden Gate Fields. Many other locations also have availability. Please visit MyTurn.CA.gov and sign up to get vaccinated!
COVID Relief Funding
Albany USD has received, or expects to receive, COVID relief funding of over $7 million from the State and Federal governments. These one-time grants will show up in AUSD’s current year’s budget and in next year’s budget, but will not be an ongoing source of revenue. You’ll be hearing more about the District budget in the coming weeks as we work toward a budget adoption at the end of June. AUSD experienced some areas of savings during school closure including materials, utilities, and the cost of substitute teachers, but these were more than offset by the unprecedented expenses of remote instruction. What this means is that these one-time grants will get us through this pandemic crisis; however, they will not solve AUSD’s structural deficit.
The COVID relief funding will do tremendous good here in Albany as it mitigates the large expenses the District incurred over the past year. Some of the grants extend over the next few years, which will help heal our schools and allow our students to gain ground and move forward into excellence. In general, relief fund expenditures are grouped into four categories: learning loss; mental health support, operations, and classroom improvements.
AUSD plans to spend over half of this funding to address learning loss, with two years of expanded summer school, after-school enrichment programs, para-educators, and extensive professional development for educators, among many other measures. In the operations category, over $500,000 has been spent on Chromebooks, hot spots, educational software licenses, and many other necessary items for remote learning. Operations also include personal protective equipment, air purifiers, CO2 monitors, cleaning and disinfection, and any other increased costs due to COVID-19. Operations expenses will be over $2 million. An additional $68,000 has been spent on mental health supports, and $5,000 has been spent on classroom improvements such as outdoor wireless internet to expand learning areas.
One of the grants AUSD will be receiving is the Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) Grant from the state for $2.2 million. Please take a moment to give your input into how this grant should be spent by participating in an online ThoughtExchange. It only takes a moment to note your thoughts or to anonymously “star” the input of others.
Stay hopeful and encouraged,
Dr. Frank Wells
Superintendent of Schools
Albany Unified School District