Relief fund goal set at $30K for Leverett Elementary School 

  • Leverett Elementary School. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/13/2020 3:57:41 PM

LEVERETT — Back before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Leverett Education Foundation came into existence with a mission to enhance programs at the elementary school and preserve elements of instruction at risk of being lost to budget cuts.

While that purpose remains a long-term goal for the foundation, created by residents last fall in response to a town budget crisis putting pressure on school funding, organizers are now pivoting to support a new fund that will provide financial resources for the phased reopening of Leverett Elementary School, and the eventual return of children and teachers to the building and grounds.

The foundation, joined by the Leverett Parent-Teacher Organization, recently announced the establishment of the Many Safe Returns Fund and a goal of raising $30,000.

“There’s already a gap from the town’s financial situation, and the school has experienced tightened budgets over recent years,” said Leverett Education Foundation President Steve Weiss.

Weiss, who had two children go through the school, said there are significant potential costs for the school to successfully transition from the remote learning that is in place through Oct. 30. These costs can’t be covered in the existing budget, and the town has few avenues for seeking additional money.

The current phase-in plan, which will depend on low COVID-19 case counts, will have students learn in pods of no more than 10 children and spaced 6 feet apart, all wearing masks. The costs to implementing this include buying tents and heating and cooling them, hiring additional classroom staff that may be needed for the smaller pods of students, purchasing personal protective equipment and sanitizer, getting remote devices such as Chromebooks and laptops, and acquiring hand-washing stations.

The Leverett Education Foundation has already consulted with the School Committee, Interim Principal Annie Foley Ruiz, teachers and the school nurse to work closely to help achieve those objectives, Weiss said.

“LEF was designed to educate people in town about the circumstances surrounding the school and to raise money for programs, instruction and curriculum,” he said. “Now we’re collaborating with the Leverett PTO for this COVID relief.”

To make a donation, go to leveretteducationfoundation.org or send checks to P.O. Box 235, Leverett, MA 01054.

The foundation is also planning to sponsor a late September virtual forum in which Foley Ruiz and School Committee Chair Craig Cohen will answer questions about school reopening plans and other school-related topics.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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