ESSER Updates

Dec. 13, 2021
   Fort Zumwalt School District has submitted, and had approved, a budget for the almost $10.8 million in federal stimulus dollars allocated to the district. While this money has been allocated by the federal government, it has not been appropriated by the state legislature, meaning none of the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds have reached the district.
   Superintendent Dr. Bernie DuBray met with a community focus group made up of representatives from all major stakeholder groups. Parents, teachers, support staff, business leaders, elected officials and school administrators to update the community on the budget the district has had approved. It includes:
   $2.15 million -- The required 20 percent set aside to help students recover learning loss through after-school services (Academic, Social, Emotional), high dosage tutoring during the school day, mental health services/supports and the Leader In Me initiative. Additional funds may also be allocated to meet any additional costs associated with addressing students’ needs due to lost instruction.
   $1.97 million -- Expenditures on mitigation strategies would include things such as upgraded HVAC HEPA filters, PPE and sanitizing equipment/supplies
   $6.6 million -- Other expenditures are allowable under the ESSER III legislation. These include:

-- Improving indoor air quality, to include replacement of aging equipment and upgrading air filtration systems on existing equipment.
-- Repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission. 
-- Purchasing educational technology for students that aides in regular and substantive interaction between students and their instructors.
-- Planning and implementing enhanced summer learning and supplemental after-school programs.
-- Transportation for after-school and summer programs.
-- Providing mental health services and supports.
-- Planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and providing technology for online learning.
-- Addressing the needs of children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English Language Learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and and foster care youth.
-- Coordinating response efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
-- Training and professional development on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
-- Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean all district facilities.
-- Staff retention and hiring of new staff as necessary to maintain operations and continuity of services.

   The group expressed no concerns with the district’s approved budget and approved of how it aligned with the priorities stakeholders shared in the summer survey. 
   In addressing air quality, Dr. DuBray emphasized that the district has updated all HVAC systems it can with MERV13 filters, capable of filtering particles as small as viruses. But, he added, these have to be replaced at regular intervals. “We are also identifying and prioritizing all of our aging equipment to be replaced,” he said. 
   While discussing learning loss and student mental health he shared district plans to add after-school and summer programs. “However,” he said, “the biggest enhancement we could provide is also one of our biggest challenges right now.” With Transportation still operating well short of fully staffed, adding after-school and summer routes will be a challenge because of the nationwide driver shortage. Dr.DuBray also shared that, despite the fact no ESSER III stimulus funds have reached the district yet, FZ is moving forward to expand supports for students by adding two additional Crisis Counselors to the staff after Winter Break. He added that, if the legislature does not appropriate the funds by the March 24 deadline, Fort Zumwalt will lose out on the nearly $10.8 million. It will go back to the federal government.

_____________ Aug. 2, 2021
Thank you to the more than 4,300 respondents to our recent survey regarding the use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds from the federal government. An overview:


Of those who responded, 74 percent described their connection to FZSD as parent/guardian, 24 percent as current staff member, and the remaining 2 percent as student resident, business owner or other. When asked, the vast majority of respondents gave Fort Zumwalt School District a passing grade for the 2020-2021 school year (99.3 percent) with 86 percent grading the district’s performance last school year as an A or a B. 


When it comes to federal stimulus funds, the money can only be used for certain expenses. Respondents were able to rate the importance of these items. Addressing learning loss and providing mental health supports were rated as important or very important by 87 percent of respondents. Addressing air quality was important or very important to 75 percent of respondents while 73 percent gave similar feedback regarding educational technology. 


Superintendent Dr. Bernie DuBray reviewed the results with a community focus group made up of representatives from all major stakeholder groups. Parents, teachers, support staff, business leaders, elected officials and school administrators shared their perspective with Dr. DuBray as well as several Board of Education members, and offered some potential strategies that could be implemented to address learning loss, student mental health supports and air quality. The group also heard from the superintendent regarding the draft Return to School Plan for 2021. When asked about masks and quarantines, he again emphasized that the district is in regular contact with health officials and that the final plan will be released in the coming weeks. Classes resume Aug. 23. 


Updates on the use of one-time federal stimulus money will be available at Click the COVID-19 button and use the ESSER Updates tab on the next screen.