Dr. Stephanie Burrage, Interim Superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools, testified during the House Education Finance Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 27. She and other superintendents told legislators about some of the issues affecting students, families, staff and public education during the pandemic.
Dr. Burrage informed the Committee that Robbinsdale Area Schools began the school year in distance learning. She explained how students and families were offered a ‘PLUS’ model, which allows students to come to our schools in small numbers for academic help, social-emotional support or other assistance through the District’s Student Support Centers. To meet students’ needs, the District spent $1.6 million to purchase 5,588 iPads and Chromebooks as well as hotspots and accessories. Additional funding will be needed to continue to cover technology costs.
During her testimony, Dr. Burrage stressed that as students return to schools in person, they will need more mental health support including licensed psychologists, social workers and mental health therapies.
“Our student’s mental health has suffered during this time,” she said. “And we will need resources to help them readjust to being back in our buildings or if they continue to learn from a distance.”
Lawmakers also heard about other funding needs such as voluntary pre-kindergarten funding; priority for additional funding for robust summer educational programming; professional development to allow teachers and school staff to be better equipped to address learning gaps and academic deficiencies due to the pandemic; funding for schools and staff to do authentic equity work; and the importance of making vaccines available for staff.
“We know that this generation of students will forever be changed by the impact of the pandemic,” said Dr. Burrage. “It is our job to ensure that they are ready for the future and that any setbacks or trauma they experience during this time - that we come back strong and meet their needs. Thank you for asking what we need to help our students get back on track."