Sioux City Community School District discusses allocation of ESSER III budget funds

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Ahead of the third round of federal funding heading to Sioux City Community Schools, officials held a public forum Monday night to seek feedback from the general public on how that money should be used.

The Sioux City Community School District has $39 million in funds available from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER.

The school district plans to use that money for a multitude of items on their list along with COVID-19 safety enhancements, like making accommodations for social distancing. But what some of those funds will be directed towards and just how much has been quite the controversy in recent weeks.

Superintendent Paul Gausman described how they plan to best tackle some of those issues in schools right now. Their main allocation of funds will be towards new air ventilation systems, roughly $10 million, which Gausman argues could be the most beneficial addition long-term. However, one parent argued that point.

“I was quite surprised to hear that…because student remediation are, or should be our first priority of these COVID-19 funds,” Karen Mackey said.

The next most costly item in the budget, $7 million to hire additional teachers. Administrators hope by employing more teachers, class sizes will be smaller which will help with students’ focus, more one-on-one learning, and more distance between each individual.

“We’re going to have PLC time or professional learning community time for all of our teachers in the district and we allocated an additional hour a week and that if teachers want to, they can also have an hour of time outside of their contract day and work with teachers of their grade level or content area and really look at students and their proficiency,” Dr. Kim Buryanek, the district’s associate superintendent, said.

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There is still room for adjustments, the discussion on where this third round of funding is going, is far from over, as part two is still being spent with a focus on boosting technology in the district..

There is a tight window in which the school district can use these funds. Gausman says he is asking the federal government to give them more time to use the money. No word on where that lies.

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