Norcross Hosts Roundtable Discussion on American Rescue Plan & Funding for Local Schools
DEPTFORD, NJ – Today, U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) held a roundtable discussion on the American Rescue Plan and the funding for local South Jersey schools. Norcross met with students, teachers and administrators to hear about their personal experiences through the pandemic and discuss what the new funding can be spent on and how this bill will help to safely reopen schools and get our students back into classrooms.
The American Rescue Plan puts shots in arms, money in pockets, people in jobs and children in schools by providing students and teachers the resources they need to return to the classroom safely with over $120 billion for K-12, including $4.5 billion for New Jersey and $375 million for New Jersey’s First Congressional District. Deptford Township Schools will receive over $4 million to address the impact of the pandemic. The funding is to be spent on addressing COVID’s impact on students’ education, upgrading and repairing ventilation systems, implementing social distancing, purchasing PPE and investing in support staff.
“As difficult as this past year has been, our country has continued to function thanks to our essential workers, including our teachers,” said Congressman Norcross, a member of the Committee on Education and Labor. “The American Rescue Plan will get shots in arms, money in pockets, people in jobs and children back in schools. Schools must be able to safely open so that workers have a safe place to send their children and feel comfortable getting back to work so that we can begin to rebuild our economy.”
Norcross added: “The best place for children is in the classroom. In addition to getting our kids back into school, this funding will allow us to improve our ventilation systems, provide students and faculty with PPE and hire additional support staff to take care of the students physical and mental health.”
At the roundtable, Norcross was joined by Deptford Mayor Paul Medany, Superintendent of Deptford Township School District Arthur Dietz, Vice Principal of Lake Tract Elementary and Instructional/Curriculum Supervisor Danielle Lehman, Chemistry/Science Teacher Delsea Regional High School Franklin Township and NJEA Government Relations Chair Tina Dare, Lake Tract Elementary 3rd grade student Londyn Byrd, Londyn’s mother and 4th grade teacher at Shady Lane Elementary Samantha Byrd, 8th grade student at Deptford Middle School Tyler Newman, Tyler’s mother and Guidance Counselor at Deptford Middle School Carolann Newman, 12th grade student at Deptford High School Nalia Abney and Nalia’s mother Radiah Abney.
To watch the roundtable discussion, click here.
“This part of the American Rescue Plan is about the schools,” said Deptford Mayor Paul Medany. “It’s a great day in Deptford Township, and I want to thank the district and Congressman Norcross.”
“Since last year we’ve watched our teachers transform their classrooms so they can teach both the students at home and the students in the classroom,” said Arthur Dietz, Superintendent, Deptford Township School District. “Our teachers have done a great job at allowing students both in the classroom and virtual to learn and continue their education. All of our teachers have had the opportunity to receive a vaccination if they want one and most of our teachers have taken that opportunity.”
“We had our guidance counselors reaching out weekly to touch base with our families that needed support,” said Danielle Lehman, Vice Principal of Lake Tract Elementary and Instructional/Curriculum Supervisor. “We’re looking at our students and the social and emotional piece as well as the academic piece. Our report cards are still a tool to see where our children stand but we also have to keep in mind that we’re teaching differently too.”
“The most difficult thing for me has been the lack of interaction with my peers,” said Deptford High School Senior Nalia Abney. “The disconnect has been hard but we have all adjusted and are still learning the best we can.”
“It’s been tough. This is her senior year, and there has been a lot of work that has gone on getting her to this point,” Radiah Abney, Nalia’s mother. “The one good thing is that the schools here in Deptford have been really accessible despite doing everything virtually. They’ve really taken a lot of time to help my daughter navigate her senior year.”
“We had to stop on a dime and completely change the way we taught. I am a 22-year teacher, and I feel like this past year has been my first year all over again but a thousand times more difficult,” said Tina Dare, Chemistry/Science Teacher Delsea Regional High School Franklin Township and NJEA Government Relations Chair. “We miss the students in our buildings as much as they miss being there. I want to thank Congressman Norcross so much for helping to pass the American Rescue Plan because it is going to make a huge difference in getting our student back into the classroom as safely as possible.”
“Not having middle school soccer and everything being remote for so long was rough,” said Tyler Newman, 8th grade student at Deptford Middle School. “Everyone was so separated, and it was really hard to communicate being remote.”
“This year was especially challenging because we weren’t able to meet with the students like we usually do,” said Carolann Newman, Tyler’s mother and Guidance Counselor at Deptford Middle School. “Everything that normally takes five minutes took a lot longer. As a parent, it has been interesting. The teachers have been amazing and set meeting time which was phenomenal. It was difficult for the kids to not be able to see their classmates in person.”
“With my kids, we would all be on the internet at the same time and being home trying to teach my classes and make sure the kids were all in class and doing the right things was very tough to navigate,” said Samantha Byrd, parent and 4th grade teacher at Shady Lane Elementary.
Contact: Carrie Healey, Communications Director