Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly highlighted the positive impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) at Riverside Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. To date, Virginia has received $1,372,041,529 in stimulus funding which has been used to support over 5,000 jobs and drive reform. Fairfax County has received over $49 million which has been used to support nearly 600 jobs and drive reform. At Riverside Elementary, the bulk of the $333,000 awarded was used to support a successful extended learning time program and parent workshops.
“Stimulus funding was able to not only support nearly 600 jobs in Fairfax County but keep critical initiatives, like Riverside’s extended learning time program and parent workshops, off the chopping block,” said Duncan. “This unprecedented investment has been critical to keeping teachers teaching and students learning.”
“In addition to preventing teacher layoffs, the Recovery Act is increasing aid for disadvantaged children, modernizing classrooms and increasing Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds,”said Connolly. “With most local and state governments still facing serious budget challenges, these federal resources could not have come at a more critical time for Northern Virginia children.”
“The stimulus funds provide the students at Riverside with two additional hours of instruction a week,” said Principal Lori Morton. “As a result, our students continue to increase their achievement in reading and math. Our phenomenal staff recognizes that it takes a whole village to raise a child. As such, the stimulus funds have allowed us to provide the parents of at-risk students in kindergarten and first grade with a series of workshops focusing on early literacy skills and number sense. A third of the students who received intervention in kindergarten are now meeting grade-level expectations in first grade.”
Most of the $333,000 Riverside Elementary received under ARRA was used for an extended learning time program, formerly known as Project Excel, and the implementation of a series of parent workshops. The goal of Project Excel is to improve student achievement with increased time for learning, an enhanced technology-based phonics instruction for K-1, and the implementation of a research-based instructional model. In addition to driving student achievement, these funds also enabled Riverside to augment all teachers’ contracts to pay for the two additional hours of instruction every Monday. ARRA funding also supported parent workshops which provide parents with tools to support school-based learning objectives. Not only has this program made a tangible difference in student achievement, the ARRA funds provide teachers with an hourly stipend for planning and implementation of these evening parent classes. Without Recovery Act funds, both of these programs would have been discontinued in school year 2009-10 due to Fairfax County Public Schools budget cuts.