Area school districts receive pandemic relief funds

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star

Several school districts in the Pottawatomie County area that originally received limited pandemic relief funds under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II were awarded additional funding Friday.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) decided to allocate a total of $49 million in federal relief dollars to these and other districts.

The funds are part of the set-aside ESSER II dollars that had been allocated to the OSDE.

“These recipients had received the least amount of federal aid, but like all public school districts throughout our state, are struggling with financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Hofmeister. “These additional foundational dollars will help strengthen their ability to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19."

Area districts that received these funds include Bethel, which was awarded $77,156.16, while Chandler was awarded $35,373.38. Dale was awarded $189,691.72; Grove was awarded $203,659.92; North Rock Creek was awarded $8,497.85 and South Rock Creek received $78,268.11.

According to North Rock Creek Superintendent Dr. Blake Moody, these funds will benefit his district.

"I am always appreciative and grateful to receive additional funding that helps kids," Moody said. "This revenue will be used to make up some of the shortfall from a COVID stricken economy."

As required under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, ESSER II allocations were distributed based on Title I funds from fiscal year 2020.

Some school districts with smaller number of high-poverty students received limited relief funding from the $665 million that ESSER II provided to Oklahoma schools.

Without the additional dollars, some districts indicated they would have been forced to cut critical staff such as teachers, nurses and counselors.

OSDE determined that any district that had received less than $550 per student in ESSER II funds was awarded a portion of the $49 million. Allowable uses of the dollars include preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19, as well as mitigating learning loss and restoring high-quality learning environments.