Yelm Community Schools hired 38 new teachers and paraeducators who started the 2021-22 school year on Sept. 8 by using some of the $4.8 million of Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) federal grant monies, allocated by the Washington State Legislature.
Each district was given an allocation of three installments of ESSER dollars to spend on COVID-19-related relief for their operations. Funds can be spent on things like personal protective equipment, sanitization services and initiatives geared toward learning recovery, among other uses.
The bulk of ESSER dollars must be spent in the next two school years.
For learning recovery, Yelm community schools will spend ESSER dollars on math, literacy, science and social emotional learning at the K-8 level, and then graduation readiness at the high school level, Yelm Community Schools Superintendent Brian Wharton said at a recent school board meeting.
Wharton said the district has hired four employees at the secondary level. That includes two teachers focused on credit recovery at Yelm High School and another at Yelm Middle School, in addition to a teacher for math and history at Ridgeline Middle School.
At the primary level, Wharton said the district has hired eight new certificated teachers with ESSER funds. At Fort Stevens, Mill Pond and Prairie elementary schools, second grade teachers were hired, and an additional technology specialist was hired at Mill Pond. Lackamas, McKenna and Southworth elementary schools received intervention specialists, with Southworth receiving two.
Wharton said the office of student support hired four new certificated professionals.
There were an additional six classified staff members hired for the secondary level, he said, and 16 hired for the primary level. The positions include paraeducators, reading specialists, and a custodian.
At least 14 Yelm High School graduates were among the new hires for the 2021-22 school year, Wharton said in a previous interview with the Nisqually Valley News.