USD 232 now tracks online how it will spend $7M in federal COVID-19 relief — here’s how you can check

USD 232 COVID relief

USD 232's new online platform for federal COVID-19 relief funding shows how the school district in De Soto will use more than $7 million received over the past year and a half. Above, students work on their devices. File photo courtesy USD 232.

USD 232 in De Soto has published an online platform to share how it will spend federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

The district is participating in the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, which Congress enacted in March 2020 to help out schools with financial support during the pandemic.

In a brief presentation to the school board Oct. 4, Superintendent Frank Harwood shared about the platform and timeline for spending, and also offered some clarification on how the district can tap into the funding.

The school district, which covers parts of Shawnee, Lenexa, De Soto and Olathe, has received about $7.3 million total from three rounds of federal COVID relief funding over the past year-and-a-half.

Those funds must be spent or encumbered by the end of 2024.

Here’s how the school district has planned to spend the money so far:

Round 1 (ESSER I)

ESSER I funds came out of the first coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic.

As of July 12, USD 232 has spent about $133,800 of the roughly $195,100 the district received in this round.

That money is going toward:

  • Expanded programming for Extended School Year (Special Education)
  • Special education reading resources
  • Elementary reading resources
  • Supplemental lab resources
  • Health services support

Round 2 (ESSER II)

The second round of federal aid came out of a coronavirus relief bill passed in December 2020.

So far, the district says it has spent zero dollars of the roughly $2.37 million the district received through this round of federal money.

Much of this round of funding will go toward new employee positions as well as an expanded summer school program and other resources.

The district says it will spend these funds on:

  • District literacy specialist
  • District improvement specialist – Special Education
  • District autism specialist
  • School improvement specialists (2)
  • Additional nurses (2)
  • Additional social worker
  • At-risk teacher (.5)
  • Assistive technology specialist (.5)
  • Occupational therapist (.5)
  • Speech language pathologist (.7)
  • Resource teacher (.5)
  • Class size reduction positions (2)
  • Expanded summer school (2021)
  • Supplemental resources for reading, math and social emotional learning
  • Retention incentive for staff

Round 3 (ESSER III)

These are funds received through the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year.

None of the roughly $4.78 million USD 232 received through this third round are committed yet.

The district says it will first gather stakeholder input before dedicating any of this funding.

The district is tentatively planning to use funds from the ESSER III round to cover the recent pay increases for paraprofessionals, among other allocations.

USD 232 is tentatively working to develop those funding plans by spring 2022.

District officials noted on Monday that USD 232 must address how it is responding to pandemic-related guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to receive the federal money.

However, the district is not required to have a universal mask policy in order to tap into the federal funds.