Epsom Central School is a K-8 elementary school serving the rural community of Epsom, NH. There are approximately 380 students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year. Epsom Central School is part of SAU #53 with Allenstown, Deerfield, Chichester, and Pembroke. Students from Epsom Central School attend Pembroke Academy in Pembroke, NH for high school with approximately 169 Epsom students at the high school.
During the summer of 2021 we worked on an updated Reopening Plan through feedback from the Epsom School Board, families, and other districts to bring our students back into the building following recommended procedures by the New Hampshire Transition Reopening and Redesign Task Force and national health agencies.
Our students, staff, and families all made the in-person learning possible through the screening process, school thermometer screenings, face coverings, food deliveries, surface cleanings, and social distancing.
We received ESSER grant money through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund under the ARP Act of 2021, Public Law 117-2, enacted on March 11, 2021. ARP ESSER provides a total of nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. In addition to ARP ESSER, the ARP Act includes $3 billion for special education, $850 million for the Outlying Areas, $2.75 billion to support non-public schools, and additional funding for homeless children and youth, Tribal educational agencies, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives.The Epsom School District received $386,469.25 through ESSER III funds.
Of the total amount allocated to an LEA from the State’s ARP ESSER award, the LEA must reserve at least 20 percent of funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and ensure that those interventions respond to students’ social, emotional, and academic needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups (each major racial and ethnic group, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, gender, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care).
Remaining LEA funds may be used for a wide range of activities to address needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), or Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins CTE). Specifically, ARP ESSER funds may be used to develop strategies and implement public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reopening and operating schools to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff, as well as:
coordinating preparedness and response efforts with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19
planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and providing technology for online learning
training and professional development on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases
planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs
purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the LEA’s facilities
providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools and the hiring of counselors
repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards
purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, connectivity, assistive technology, and adaptive equipment) for students that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including students from low-income families and children with disabilities
improving indoor air quality
addressing learning loss
addressing the needs of children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth
other activities that are necessary to maintain operation of and continuity of and services, including continuing to employ existing or hiring new LEA and school staff
developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs
The intent of Epsom Central School is to reserve approximately $77,000 to address student learning loss. This will occur through extending summer school for an additional year, hiring an additional tutor who will work with students in either a small group setting or individually to provide support outside of the regular education classroom as well as other activities that are to be determined by our stakeholders.
We would like to propose using the remaining funds, approximately $301,000 to update our HVAC system. The updated HVAC system would allow for better air quality to circulate through our building. The system would add fresh filtered air to the classrooms. Currently, in about ½ of our building, we have an exhaust-only system that doesn’t allow for any fresh air to circulate unless a classroom teacher opens the windows. We do not have an exact cost yet for this project as we will need to get plan approval before we can seek quotes.
CRRSA - ESSER II - $171,912.59
CRRSA ESSER II: Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II). On December 27, 2020, the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA Act), Public Law 116-260, was signed into law and provided an additional $54.3 billion nationwide for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund). The purpose of the additional funding is to provide direct money to LEAs to assist in safely reopening schools, measuring and effectively addressing significant learning loss, and taking other actions to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Allowable uses include all possible expenditures underCARES ESSER I.
In order to best meet the needs of the staff, students, and families at Epsom Central School we used these funds to address learning loss and to ensure the safety of all. We have hired a math tutor, for two years, to help with learning loss that has occurred throughout the pandemic (approximately $51,000). We have also hired a reading tutor to help with the same learning loss (approximately $25,000). Both tutors provide support for students identified as needing additional support outside of the regular education classroom in mathematics and literacy. Depending on the needs of the children the tutors will work with small groups or individual students. We also implemented the first of a two-year summer school (approximately $41,000). The summer school program is open to students in grades Pre-K to Eight. The program will provide supplemental instruction to targeted students, as identified through various assessments (NHSAS, Star Early Literacy, Star Reading, Star Math, DRA, assessments based on curriculum, and teacher recommendation). The summer school program will also include bus transportation to help with accessibility for all our families. We have a COVID Coordinator on staff with the following responsibilities; stay up-to-date with regular health updates, communicate with the DHHS, be in contact with families before and after school, on the weekends, as well as relay all information with students, staff, and families.
CARES Act ESSER Funds - $59,642.01
The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It includes the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to help K-12 educational entities prevent, prepare for, and respond to impacts of COVID-19. In order to best meet the needs of the staff, students, and families at Epsom Central School we used these funds for the purchase of staff laptops that were used including time during remote learning (approximately $43,000), the purchase of online educational subscriptions (approximately $9,000), and the purchase of two Thermal Temperature Monitoring Stations used over the past year and through 21-22 (approximately $6,000). The laptops will allow the staff to stay in contact with our students and act as a tool to better reach their needs whether working remotely or in person. The subscriptions will allow our students access to the necessary content through an online forum. These subscriptions will include but are not limited to Brain Pop, Mystery Science, ScreenCastify, Scholastic Bookflix, Affirm, and Math Equip. These programs will allow students to continue to make progress towards their academic goals as well as assist in remediating the skills needed to bring them up to grade level. The temperature monitoring stations, placed in two separate locations, will allow us to monitor and record the staff and students’ temperatures upon entering the building. One of the major concerns from families through a survey that was conducted was to ensure the safety of everyone at the school. These stations will help to provide that assurance for all involved.
Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, Epsom Central School has continued their efforts in building a Multi-Tiered System of Support for Behavioral Health and Wellness framework. The targeted goals of this work focuses on the social and emotional well-being of ECS students and staff, as well as fostering strong, collaborative relationships with families and the Epsom Community. In addition, MTSS-B incorporates our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (P.B.I.S) initiative.
School-wide expectations at the Tier 1 level (Universal Interventions) focuses on being Safe, Respectful, and Responsible across the common areas of the building. These foundational expectations are an important component to our framework and allows us the opportunity to cultivate authentic connections. To continue these efforts, Epsom Central School has fostered a collaborative relationship with the Office Of Student Wellness at NHDOE by applying and receiving the NH Promising Futures Grant for an additional school year.
Epsom Central School was awarded grant funds, up to $43,000, to focus on giving ECS educators opportunities to acquire additional tools to nurture meaningful relationships that are student-centered. These funds will allow up to 65 ECS staff members to participate in one-day Responsive Classroom workshops and 13 staff members in weeklong Responsive Classroom professional development during the winter, spring, and summer of 2022. These training sessions are critical in the implementation stage of this work to ensure fidelity. This past year the pandemic has created obstacles/barriers in this work but also reinforced how important and imperative these efforts are to address the social and emotional needs within the Epsom Central School community across all grade levels K-8.
While we were unable to hold a traditional assembly with social distancing in place, our Veterans Day event this year included electronic presentations on our website to thank members of the Epsom community.
Epsom Central School partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services Immunization Department to provide students with the influenza vaccine. School Care and Rite Aid worked together with ECS to provide staff members with vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia, and shingles. With first aid and CPR, we had many staff members recertify in a renewal training. The Covid-19 vaccination was provided as an option to staff and parents for students.
Our Camp Mi-Te-NA sixth grade environmental camp trip was able to take place without the overnight component but the hours were extended into the late evening. Our eighth grade Washington, D.C. experience continued in April of 2022.
We had a school-wide Memorial Day assembly for veterans, families, and our students to share projects, songs, and essays about the meaning of Memorial Day on Friday, May 27th.
Music lessons have resumed in person for choir and band members. Sports in the fall of 2021 were back to the original schedules based with students competing against other local schools.
Our school safety procedures involve ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training with emergency responders and school personnel. The fire and police departments have supported our students and staff as part of our emergency response planning including off-site evacuation drills throughout the school year. We appreciate the support from the fire and police personnel with safety trainings throughout the year and lessons provided by the Fire Department for Fire Prevention week.
STAR assessments are used for reading and math to compare our students on a national level. These were administered in the fall at ECS. In the spring the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System is planned to be administered. Students in grades three through eight have multiple sections over a two-week period of time in ELA (grades 3-8), Math (grades 3-8), and Science (grades 5 and 8).
Over the past three years, we have been using competency-based grading with students from grades kindergarten through eight. Competency-based learning uses standards to determine expectations and to define what being competent or proficient in a subject area or grade level means. The general goal of competency-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are essential for success in school, careers, and life. These are in place along with the adjustment in the assessment rubrics used and report card changes to give parents and families more details as to the knowledge and understanding in each curriculum area. Instead of having one overall grade, such as an “A” or a “B,” specific skill categories are listed providing significantly more information about strengths and areas for improvement. We have increased this to a four point scale with a Proficient with Distinction category. In addition to the competency skills, we have put in work-study skills (Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, Self-Regulation/Control) for the social expectations on each report card available through the ALMA Parent/Student/Staff portal.
Please visit our website, www.sau53.org/ecs, to learn more about Epsom Central and our many student activities.
Patrick Connors, Principal Jon Herod, Assistant Principal