Massillon BOE to use ESSER funds to add outdoor classrooms, HVAC improvements at WHS

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MASSILLON – The Massillon Board of Education has approved a contract with Architectural Vision Group for design and construction services for a Washington High improvement project using federal funds.

Superintendent Paul Salvino said the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds will be used to create outdoor learning space and make improvements to the school’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

It is unclear the cost of the project, Salvino said.

The district plans to use some of the nearly $8.5 million they received in the third phase ESSER funding. Twenty percent of that funding will be used to address learning gaps created by the COVID shutdown. They are also using funding to address technology and curriculum, he said.

The cost of the contract with AVG will not exceed 8% of the project cost.

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If any funding remains, Salvino hopes to address runoff from Stadium Park that creates a problem at the high school.

Both the outdoor space and HVAC improvements will aid the district in navigating the pandemic and issues such as fresh air and social distancing.

Salvino said officials had always talked about creating outdoor learning areas if they had the funding.

“Our teachers already use the limited (outdoor) space and take the students outside for some lessons but it will be nice to have an area conducive to learning,” he said.

The district hopes to begin the work by the end of the school year and complete it before the next school year begins.

Addressing student needs, technology

The federal ESSER funds funnel through the state to local districts. Allocations are based on the number of economically disadvantaged students. Ohio received $489.2 million to distribute to districts.

Massillon received $1.3 million in the first round of funding and about $5.6 million in the subsequent round.

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Last school year, Salvino said the district has used the funding for a number of initiatives. Among them:

  • Purchasing 4,200 new Chromebooks as well as licenses and cases for students.

  • Supporting connectivity for students

  • Securing long-term substitutes due to e-learning, salary and fringe benefits for staffing to meet pandemic needs.

  • Increasing programming for summer school, including teachers’ salaries.

  • Providing transportation services to those students. It is the first time the district has had bus service for summer school.

The earlier funding also paid for personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitizing materials and professional development.

Not only is the funding used to address the education of students but also their social, emotional and overall well-being, Salvino added.

District officials had hoped to use some of the ESSER funds to overhaul classroom technology and software.

This school year, staff members are trying a variety of technology aids in the classroom to determine the best options.

Salvino indicated in the past the district anticipated spending $1.2 million to $1.3 million on classroom technology upgrades.

In other business, the board approved the retirements of school psychologist Lisa Bender, effective June 3; and teacher Tyrone Partridge, May 31.

The board also approved the purchase of plaques for the 2022 Distinguished Citizens for $1,500 from the general fund, a $500 increase due to missing two years because of COVID. The board also approved $1,000 for the luncheon.

A board reorganization meeting will be 5 p.m. Jan. 5. at administrative offices, 930 17th St. NE.

Reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

This article originally appeared on The Independent: Fed money to fund outdoor classrooms, improvements at Washington High