Cummings named to head federally funded program targeting pandemic impact on student learning
Longtime district 21st Century Afterschool Program Director Brent Cummings has been promoted to Director of Supplemental Learning and Support for Walla Walla Public Schools effective March 1. In his temporary role which extends through next school year, Cummings will be tagged to manage the district’s portion of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund dollars.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), was signed into law on December 27, 2020 and provides an additional $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund). ESSER II Fund awards to State Educational Agencies are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2020.
“At the Feb. 16 School Board meeting, our Board identified the need for this critical position and recommended we move forward as soon as possible to fill this instrumental role,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “This temporary assignment will last through at least September 2022, as Mr. Cummings works with the school board, staff, parents, students and community partners to coordinate and implement programs to meet student learning gaps and other impacts resulting from the pandemic.”
Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds have been allocated to help school districts across the nation restore and maintain high-quality learning environments, and to take comprehensive action to mitigate the unprecedented learning loss that many of America’s most vulnerable students have endured. School Board President Derek Sarley says he welcomes these federal funds as the district takes aim to address the extraordinarily challenging times students, educators and administrators have faced in absence of in-person instruction.
"Educators, students and parents have pushed themselves to the limits the last 12 months to keep learning happening, but we saw in our district data review this week where gaps have been opened that we need to close,” said Sarley. “The board is committed to using these precious federal dollars wisely and aggressively to support student learning, and we need someone who can give that job their full attention."
Cummings has held his current position for Walla Walla Public Schools since 2013. He spent the prior eight years as site coordinator for the Northwest Learning and Achievement Group which managed 21st Century Community Learning Center grants at Garrison Middle School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana where he also earned All-Academic Honors while playing on the men’s basketball team. Cummings and his wife Audra, a Walla Walla High School graduate and former district teacher, have four young children.