HCS receives $2.2 million in ESSER funds

    HARLAN – The Harlan Community Schools (HCS) learned last week that it will receive an additional $1,451,851 in funding through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
    This, combined with $646,457, $124,739, and $64,000 in earlier federal relief funds, brings the total stimulus funding brought in to the school district to $2,287,047.
    Officials said the funding is being distributed to districts through state departments of education via federal channels.
    “These funds were to be designated for prevention of, preparation for, and responding to the coronavirus,” said Brian Gubbels, HCS Director of Finance.  “This allocation also focuses on air quality and addressing learning loss due to COVID.”
    Gubbels said the district is formulating a plan for the allocated dollars.
    ESSER is infusing billions into K-12 education to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on schools across Iowa and the nation.
    Throughout the past year, the Harlan Community Schools has spent the federal monies on everything from COVID mobile hotspots, virtual learning software and maintenance supplies, to custodial costs, cleaning and mitigation, technology purchases and summer school, to name a few (see accompanying table on page 2A).
    The stimulus funds have come in four separate designations since spring, 2020.
    Among the considerations for this go-around of funding are opportunities to close the learning gap for students and address their academic needs.
    HCS Superintendent of Schools Lynn Johnson said the district may utilize funds for summer school for elementary students, K-3, this year, as well as staff interventionists for the next two-three years.    Details will be forthcoming.
    “Twenty percent of the (ESSER) funds can be used to close the learning gap,” Johnson said.  Additional staffing would be made available for reading and/or math help.
    The HCS Board of Education this month approved 6-0 a proposal to utilize ESSER funds for up to two total full-time-equivalent interventionists at the elementary and middle school levels.


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