SHERIDAN — Sheridan County School District 2 Board of Trustees approved more than $14 million in spending of federally allocated funding for specific projects related to continued COVID-19 struggles.
A total of $14,139,369.72 has been allocated from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and American Rescue Plan federal funding for the following projects at SCSD2 schools:
• $8,519,188.85: American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funds
• $340,000: Digital learning, competitive grant from Wyoming ESSER III set aside to assist with digital learning and virtual school enhancements
• $259,692: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, children with disabilities/special education
• $21,483: Special education, children with disabilities ages 3-5
• $34,476.44: McKinney Vento for homeless and displaced youth
and previously approved funds in the July 15, 2021, board meeting:
• $1,040,276.70: CARES Act COVID-19 relief funds for the 2019-2020 school year
• $3,792,415.36: CARES Act COVID-19 relief fund for the 2020-2021 school year
All funds come with stipulations on how grants are spent for the school district, as well as time constraints on each grant — the closest deadline being September 2022 for ESSER I funds and the farthest deadline being September 2024 for three types of ARP grants.
Some stipulations addressed by the U.S. Department of Education include:
• Coordinating preparedness and response efforts with state, local, tribal and territorial public health departments and other relevant agencies to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
• Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
• Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
• Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts.
• Training and professional development for staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
• Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities, including buildings operated by districts.
• Planning for, coordinating, and implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students, providing technology for online learning to all students, providing guidance for carrying out requirements under the IDEA and ensuring other education services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
• Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software and connectivity) for students who are served that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
• Providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools.
• Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and enrichment and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care.
Additionally, SCSD2 Business Manager Brandon Finney must track each grant allocation separately, and the district must follow reporting requirements with time constraints as set by government regulations.
Uses for the funding already obligated include four permanent substitute teacher positions, additional custodial staff and the Bronc Virtual online learning program. Those additions, administrators said, have been extremely helpful with pandemic measures and absences.
SCSD2 cannot use ESSER III funds until all ESSER II funds have been expended, which district officials are in the process of utilizing, as all ESSER I funds have been used.
Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before moving into the managing editor position in November 2018. She is a native of Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles.