Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Around $15 million has been allocated to the Macon County School System in funding referred to as ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) funding. In 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills that provided nearly $190.5 billion to the ESSER Fund.
States receive funds based on the same proportion that each state receives under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title-IA. States must distribute at least 90% of funds to local education agencies (LEAs) based on their proportional share of ESEA Title I-A funds. States have the option to reserve 10% of the allocation for emergency needs as determined by the state to address issues responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020, provided $13.5 billion to the ESSER Fund.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), passed on Dec. 27, 2020, provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER II fund.
The American Rescue Plan Act, passed on March 11, 2021, provided $122.7 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER III fund.
The funding does have requirements and regulations attached to it. The school system is required to reserve at least 20 percent of the funding they receive to address learning loss.
Two-thirds of ESSER funds were immediately available to states while remaining funds will be made available after states submit ESSER implementation plans. The U.S. Department of Education is tracking state plans, 28 states have submitted their plans for review and approval.
Macon County Schools established a task force, to determine the best way for the funds to be spent and have asked the public for input on ways they would like to see the funding improve public education in Macon County.
The Community Collaborative group is made up of school board members, commissioners, teachers, parents, business leaders, and central office staff. This list of possible initiatives in which ESSER funding could be used to invest in students, teachers, and school system infrastructure, came out of data collected from students, parents, and teachers in the community.
The Macon County School Board is now asking the general public to review the list of possible initiatives and to rank each area with ONE (1) being a low priority and FIVE (5) being a high priority. There is also a section after each option where the public can provide written comments related to each funding area.
Macon County Schools will be utilizing ESSER funding in several priority areas.
Based on survey data, the five initiatives upon which all stakeholders agree are:
○ Hands on / experiential / outdoors
○ More art /music / extracurriculars
○ More / enhanced science / STEM
○ Less testing
○ More fun
After the survey is completed, the Community Collaborative Group will analyze the response to formulate a plan for how to utilize the funding that will be approved by the Macon County Board of Education.
To participate in the survey, visit Macon County Schools website and click on the News and Announcement section.