"Before ARRA, we simply did what we could to sustain ourselves," said Laurie Hurley, the school system's grants writer.
The school system received a preschool grants for children with disabilities of $46K and a grant to states for the education of children with disabilities of $2.5 million. According to Hurley, the district was able to use the stimulus funds to expand its Therapeutic Learning Center, which caters to children in the district with special needs.
Barbara McGuire, principal of the Elizabeth Pole Elementary School, where the Center is housed, said that the Center was able to expand to four classrooms from three. "The ARRA money allowed us to bring kids back into the district," she said. "It's easier to access general education this way and these kids get invited to birthday parties and play dates. It opens up an entirely new world for them."
Recovery Act Impact: Education in MA
McGuire explained that the Center is very staff intensive and expanding it required funds they didn't have. But the stimulus funds provided the start up costs and now the district can more than realize the savings in transportation costs.
Another piece of the stimulus grants went to professional development for the teachers. "With ARRA, we can invest the right way in quality training," said Hackett. "Our system believes in the whole child. For the first time in a long time, we really feel we can do it."