Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg School District announces full return to in-person learning, approves 2021-22 budget

Screenshot from Monday’s virtual business meeting.

The Harrisburg School District had quite the agenda for its virtual business meeting on Monday night.

District officials announced a full return to in-person learning for students in the fall and Receiver Janet Samuels approved a $175.1 million 2021-22 budget that includes federal funding.

All students in the district may return to brick-and-mortar classrooms on Aug. 30, said Susan Sneath, chief academic officer.

“One thing that our families can look forward to is bringing kids back and being welcomed in-person to our buildings,” Sneath said.

This will be the first time since March 2020 that all students will return to the school buildings. Small cohorts of elementary students were brought back in person late this past school year.

At this point, officials say that returning students will be required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

However, students still have the option to remain virtual by enrolling in the district’s Harrisburg Virtual Learning Academy (HVLA). These students have the choice between an independent model with a flexible schedule and prerecorded lessons, or one with a more structured schedule with live Zoom courses, Sneath explained.

They also plan to offer after-school programs to assist students in catching up with any unfinished learning due to the pandemic.

In other district news, a $175.1 million budget for the 2021-22 school year was approved, but not before the spending plan was raised by about $360,000 over what was initially proposed. George Longridge, the district’s financial officer, explained that, upon further review, officials identified additional revenue, which adjusted the numbers slightly.

The final budget includes some of the $52.9 million in federal Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds that are headed towards the district. The funding fills an estimated $5.6 million deficit that the district likely would have had otherwise.

There will be no property tax increase this year.

Finally, Samuels approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and HACC to establish a partnership to provide skills training for students at John Harris High School. HACC will offer courses to students and parents with focuses on healthcare, public safety, manufacturing and transportation to assist with workforce development.

“We’re not getting enough people from the Harrisburg School District coming to college prepared,” said Vic Rodgers, HACC’s vice president of workforce development. “We thought […] why can’t we be more supportive than waiting until they show up at our doors.”

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