Local public school districts are continuing to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) this academic year.
The ARP was signed into law on March 11, 2021 and provided $1.9 trillion of assistance, including $122 billion in ESSER funds, according to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
DAVIESS COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLSDCPS received $17.5 million in ARP ESSER funding for air quality, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies to combat illnesses within its schools.
According to the district’s ARP ESSER Plan, DCPS used the funding for bipolar ionization devices that would be placed in all schools and buildings to improve air quality; PPE that is going to be continued to be purchased; and additional cleaning supplies that is going to continued to be purchased.
The plan states that the district’s first step was to allocate $2.5 million each year to the schools using a base plus per pupil allocation. Each school submitted a learning-focused theory of action.
Any remaining funds have been used and are being used for various initiatives within the district, including Learning for All; summer learning opportunities; interventionists; teacher training; implementation of school law enforcement program; expansion of mental and school health programs; expansion of district student services support and MTSS support.
Of those, the district put a large focus on expanding social/emotional and mental health resources for students and staff. The ARP ESSER funding increased the mental health therapy support by 120%.
OPS was allocated $13.6 million in ARP ESSER funding, having already spent $7.8 million of that so far.
John David Sandefur, chief financial and operations officer for the district, said the district has largely used the funds for salaries and technology, with miscellaneous items including curriculum updates, professional development and furniture replacement and upgrades.
In an email sent by Sandefur, OPS has spent $5.2 million on salaries and $1 million on technology.
HANCOCK COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLSKara Eckles, director of finance for HCPS, said the district received $2.1 million in ARP ESSER funds and have spent $1.5 million with $750,000 still to be requested.
“We used a majority of our funds on remediation such as extra instructional assistants in our elementary schools to combat learning loss,” she said. “We also used it on cleaning supplies, ionization of COVID variants.”
Eckles said that some of the money was also used for new curriculum and technology devices for students to use for e-Learning.
MCLEAN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
McLean received $2.6 million in ARP ESSER funding and as of Thursday, the district has a balance of $1.6 million remaining, according to chief financial officer and treasure David Stokes.
“These funds are being used at each school to fund positions chose by the principal at each location,” Stokes said. “These positions include instructional coaches and intervention teachers to help address the learning loss due to COVID.”
Stokes said an elementary reading coach was also added to help combat learning loss. He said the district has budgeted for curriculum and instructional resources with the funds.
“The goal was to put these funds directly into our schools and classrooms to help with instruction,” he said.
MUHLENBERG COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Eric Bletzinger, financial officer for Muhlenberg, said the district received more than $15 million in funding and have spent $12 million so far.
“We thought we would be using the money for construction but decided against it because of additional costs,” he said. “We bought additional buses and a lot of it has been used on salary expenses. Those were some of the best ways to use the funds.”
Bletzinger said the district did purchase technology hardware for students and implement ionization in all school buildings.
“We have expended all the funds,” he said. “We felt like it would be beneficial to use the funding on staffing to help catch students up, but we won’t be able to retain that many staff when the money runs out.”
OHIO COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
OCPS officials did not respond to the Messenger-Inquirer’s request for interview.