AFHS PTA Advocacy COVID-19 2020
We made it! I commend all the hard work of our teachers, admins, school staff, and parents have put in to make the best out of what has been a very difficult situation. I know many of us are anxious about what the 2020-21 school year will bring.
The PTA is the nation’s oldest child advocacy organization in the country. The AFHS PTSA will continue our commitment to advocate for every child. The state, country and local PTA units have already been at work advocating for calendar flexibility, a school budget to maintain the current per pupil expenditure, and our children’s mental and emotional well-being amid this unprecedented time.
District budgets across the country are facing huge budget shortfalls due to COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, public school funding in NC had been struggling to get back to pre-Great Recession levels. The public health needs for our schools to reopen will be great and they come with an estimated cost of $375 per student to implement recommended measures. It is important that we ask the NCGA and the federal government to allocate more funds to accommodate the needs of reopening schools. Some of the added costs that will be required for reopening include, but are not limited to: PPE, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizing stations, touch-free thermometers, etc.
Another big need will be to address the health and wellbeing of our students. This has been an incredibly stressful time for everyone. When our kids return to school they will be dealing with stress and/or trauma. To meet these needs, it is important that the NCGA provide funds for more social workers, psychologists, school counselors, and nurses. While there are bills in the NC House and Senate to address these needs, it is imperative that the NCGA also provide the funding to support the professionals that will be needed in our schools.
The budget needs listed above are primarily addressing the needs of reopening schools this fall. This does not address the ongoing needs of our public schools. We will continue to advocate for adequate funding to meet the needs of all students.
Calendar/Remote Learning Flexibility
The NCGA sets the calendar laws, not WCPSS. NCGA calendar law currently states that schools must begin in person on August 17th for traditional calendar (August 3rd for year round) and the first 5 days cannot include remote learning options. If families want more flexibility to do remote instruction, it is important to tell your reps in the NCGA. Another issue that comes up as a result of the lack of flexibility with remote learning, is the 10-day headcount. Funds are distributed to schools based on how many students are in the building on day 10. If there are no remote learning options and parents are not comfortable sending their kids back into the school building, schools could potentially lose funding for those students. Allowing remote instruction flexibility, will allow students to continue to be enrolled in the WCPSS without being forced to be in the school building.
So what can parents do?
If these are issues that are important to you, I encourage you to reach out for more information and call your state and federal legislators to let your feelings be known. Below are a couple of links that will help you navigate the issues and show you how to get in touch with your legislators.
In the coming months PTA advocates will continue to keep you apprised of issues that impact our students. In addition, we will present information about voter registration as well as some of the issues facing education in North Carolina. We hope to also direct voters to upcoming candidate forums, of both parties, in which you can learn about policy positions on matters of education and other issues impacting our kids.