Oregon’s application for the last of three rounds of federal relief money for K-12 schools has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and Salem-Keizer Public Schools will get more than $150 million of it.
The state’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, also known as ARP ESSER, application received the stamp of approval, the department announced Thursday, bringing an additional $374 million to schools.
With this final disbursement, the state will have received $1.1 billion to help schools recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
“Oregon’s ESSER state plan provides opportunities to deepen partnerships while addressing the challenges brought on by COVID-19, poverty, systemic racism, wildfires, loss of power and the hundreds of ways we struggle to respond to the wholeness of students, families, educators and school leaders,” said Carmen Xiomara Urbina, deputy director of ODE in a news release.
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Earlier this year, the federal department distributed $81 billion — or two thirds of the ESSER funds — allocated through the CARES Act in March 2020 and then through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act enacted in December. This money went to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The third installment of ESSER funds comes from the American Rescue Plan enacted in March. The funds are distributed to states after they submit a plan for their use, and the U.S. Education department approves that plan.
This latest ESSER money will be dedicated to school districts reopening schools for in-person learning, making up for any lost instruction time for students over the past year and investing in summer and afterschool programs.
Among the three disbursements, Salem-Keizer Public Schools, the second-largest district in the state, received $151.7 million.
Districts are required to put at least 20% of the funds toward addressing lost instruction time, or “unfinished learning,” Suzanne West, director of elementary curriculum and instruction for Salem-Keizer Public Schools, said at the June 13 school board meeting.
“We’re actually planning to spend quite a bit more than that. For our district, for ESSER III, 20% would be about $20 million … We’re planning to spend at least double that amount on just unfinished learning,” she said.
Some of the district’s money also will go toward reducing class sizes, since this was identified as a priority for families.
“We want to make sure for those youngsters in particular that we make an effort to have smaller class sizes, more adult-to-student attention to accelerate what learning may not have happened over the past year,” West said.
Contact reporter Jordyn Brown at email@example.com or 541-246-4264, and follow her on Twitter @thejordynbrown and Instagram @registerguard.
Read More:Salem-Keizer to get an additional $151M in federal funds