ESSER III Funds and what to do with them?

As a response to the impact of CoVid -19 on education, the United States Department of Education has released three grants for which local school districts can apply. Here in the Valley, we want to seek staff, student, and community input for ways in which we might focus our efforts to use those funds. The ESSER III funds will become available at the end of this year and be viable for use through December 30th, 2024. These funds are for one-time or short-term applications only and are not sustainable. Because we are not likely to experience another financial investment of this scope for years to come, we need to be very strategic and intentional regarding how we spend it.

Last week I wrote about curriculum needs which is an allowable expense. We intend to explore this option with the goal of closing achievement gaps that we identify in our data analysis of student success. Other areas are yet to be determined. We believe the district benefits the most by asking our stakeholders what values they maintain for our district. Next week you will receive a brief survey and I wanted to dedicate this column to introduce the various items which are allowed by the grant. We will seek to build consensus with two really short surveys. The first survey will identify and narrow the focus of how our community values use of the funds, the second survey will attempt to narrow that focus just a bit further which helps us to set our priorities. We have to submit our budget and plans for the ESSER III funds by December 15th, so time is of the essence for us as we quickly work to complete the budget and program descriptions.

The allowable expenses we are asking you to consider include:

  • A focus on implementing strong learning in Reading, Language Arts, and Math
  • Delivering interventions for struggling students and providing small group instruction
  • Adding additional supports for interventions or Special Education
  • Ensuring all students receive high-quality instructional materials
  • Providing summer learning opportunities
  • Extending instructional time through tutoring or after school programs
  • Creating acceleration opportunities during summer or afterschool
  • Engaging our families (attendance, support, classes, resources, and other activities)
  • Providing whole child and life skills support through counseling, mental health access, and wellness resources for students, staff, and families
  • Technology (connectivity, hardware, and software)
  • Facilities repairs or improvements (air quality and safety)

We will ask you to select your top five priorities as we seek to narrow our focus. As you evaluate these options, consider that these are one-time or short-term expenditures selected specifically to address the impact of the pandemic. We look forward to receiving your input as we strive to be good stewards of these funds targeted to benefit our students.

Thank you in advance for partnering with us in the effort!
Dr. B