How ESSER funds have impacted PCSC
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER monies, are funds established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide financial assistance to schools in order to purchase items and services that would help students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were three ESSER grants allocated to public and charter schools over the course of a year. The areas of spending for Paoli School Corporation were determined by Superintendent Greg Walker, members of the School Board and other administrators.
“It was a collaborative effort between administration and the board,” said Walker.
ESSER I was passed on March 27, 2020 with $354,698.84 being received by the corporation in May 2020. This money was spent on a wide variety of things, including to aid with learning. Educational materials were purchased along with Chromebooks for all students in Kindergarten through second grade.
“This enabled us to be completely 1:1 K-12 and ensured that every student had a take-home device to use when we went virtual,” said Walker.
Positions were made as well, a daytime custodian and nursing assistant being added to PHS and Throop staff. Disinfectant supplies were bought to help prevent COVID-19 spreading.
The school was awarded $1,531,651.21 in ESSER II monies in July 2021 after the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) was passed on December 27, 2020. Funds were used to provide stipends for school employees, professional development, curriculum and programming and more cleaning supplies. Additionally, technology, Hoosier Hills Pact programs, Youth First social workers and salaries were areas of ESSER II spending.
The corporation received $3,439,871.05 of ESSER III funds in the fall of 2021. Again, professional development, salaries, technology, Youth First social workers and Hoosier Hills PACT saw money be put to use.
The funds were spent in new places too, however, such as the EES analytics program and learning manipulative resources for each teacher. Throop got new carpeting and furnishing as well as a restroom remodel.
“The new classroom furniture at Throop is more up to date,” said Walker.
Each of the ESSER funds have some areas of expense in common, perhaps the most noticeable inschool being technology. One of the most prominent technological purchases is the Viewsonic boards found in most every classroom. They have made learning a more interactive and modern experience for students.
“The new viewsonic boards have been a hit,” said Walker.
The ways in which pandemic aid has been spent so far have been well received and there are more plans for the remaining funds. The majority of money will go towards salaries for nurses, custodians, AVID employees at PHS, and WIN and STEM employees at Throop. Technology, professional development along with any other staffing needs have been budgeted as well. Plans could change though, the ESSER grants being able to be amended if anything comes up.
Story by Masden Embry