ESSER deadline approaching for Siouxland schools

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — School administrators are having final discussions this week about how they will use millions of federal dollars to both improve their operations and help kids who fell behind during the pandemic.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the CARES Act passed by Congress set aside thirteen billion dollars to be used for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, commonly referred to as ESSER funds.

Since then, two other bills have been passed, allocating an additional 170 billion dollars to assist public schools. Now, the deadline for schools to submit their plans for how they’ll use the last round of ESSER money is due September 15. South Sioux City Director of Business Operations says they have their plan ready to go.

“$2.4 (million) will be spent on curriculum and technology, and then another large portion, just under three million, we’re gonna use to update some of our HVAC in our buildings. We do have some older buildings in the district, and we’re looking to improve air quality,” said Erin Heineman.

As for private schools, such as Bishop Heelan, they have also benefitted from federal funding, just from different sources than ESSER.

“We received what was called CARES funds first, and then we had GEERS funds second, and now we’re moving into EANS funds and that’s emergency assistance for non-public schools. And so we’ve pretty well spent our CARES and GEERS funds and now we’re excited to have the opportunity to put these funds to work for our students,” said President of Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools Dr. John Flanery.

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Private school students were impacted by the learning loss as much as anyone, and Dr. Flanery says the funding was vital to their students’ future success.

“This has really been a lifesaver for us, for our families, for our students, for our teachers, to have an opportunity to upgrade and replace,” said Flanery.

The Sioux City Community School District will have a meeting September 13 to determine if they will use part of their 38.3 million in ESSER funds to purchase rapid COVID-19 tests that will be used on school property.

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