Congresswoman McCollum Names Roseville School Board Chair As Virtual Guest to State of the Union Address

Congresswoman McCollum Names Roseville School Board Chair As Virtual Guest to State of the Union Address

Chair Curtis Johnson highlights the positive impact of federal American Rescue Plan dollars on school districts in Minnesota's 4th Congressional District

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) has invited Roseville Area School District Board Chair Curtis Johnson as her virtual guest to President Biden’s State of the Union Address to Congress on Tuesday, March 1. Safety protocols meant this year’s in-person attendance is limited. Recently, Mr. Johnson joined fellow school board leaders and superintendents in an online field hearing hosted by Congresswoman McCollum on the benefits of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars in keeping schools open safely, improving access to online learning, expanding access to COVID-19 testing, and more. The ARP provided $1.3 billion to Minnesota for K-12 education, with districts in Minnesota's 4th District receiving nearly $300 million.

Watch a recorded conversation between Rep. McCollum and Chair Johnson.

“When we initially shifted our schools to distance learning in March of 2020, no one anticipated that two years later, we would still be facing the enormous upheaval that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on our communities – and in particular, our schools,” Chair Johnson said. “The combination of increased costs related to making the most significant changes to day-to-day education in generations, and the loss of revenue because of related dips in enrollment, have created unique challenges. In Roseville Area Schools, the funds provided to us through the American Rescue Plan have been absolutely essential. With both of my kids in the Roseville Area School District, we would not have been able to get through this without this support.”

“Our country has made tremendous progress this past year in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” Rep. McCollum said. “The American Rescue Plan has delivered billions to our local communities to expand vaccines and testing and helping schools operate safely. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is putting people back to work, investing in clean energy innovation, fixing infrastructure that will keep America’s drinking water safe, improving public transportation, and expanding electric vehicle infrastructure. Mr. Johnson is just one of the many community leaders who have risen to the challenges we’ve faced during this pandemic – along with health care workers, grocery workers, first responders, teachers, sanitation workers, and so many others who are our Hometown Heroes in Minnesota’s Fourth District. I thank Mr. Johnson for joining me virtually as President Biden highlights the achievements and the work we still need to do to Build Back Better.”

According to testimony from Chair Johnson and Roseville Area Schools Superintendent Jenny Loeck, $13,405,529 in American Rescue Plan funds have been used to make significant progress in pandemic recovery. With these funds, the district was able to:

  • Provide no-cost childcare between periods of distance learning for families of essential workers.
  • Provide full-time substitute teachers and paraprofessionals to cover the many absences caused by illness, and related quarantine and isolation during a time when there has been a significant shortage of substitutes.
  • Provide one-to-one technology devices for students during distance learning, including hotspots for internet access to families who could not afford it.
  • Provide additional social and emotional learning supports to all students and additional social workers in all schools.
  • Add interventions to boost learning for students who have been negatively impacted by learning loss.
  • Add an additional chemical health counselor at the secondary level.
  • Cover the added cost of increased nursing staff in relationship to COVID-19.
  • Make improvements to technology infrastructure equipment resulting from the significantly increased demands on existing networks.
  • Provide meals for students and their families.