Schuylkill County taxpayers should be on graft alert as the schools they helped fund just got another $33.7 million in funds to help “navigate the pandemic.” We’re still trying to figure out what they’re going to spend the $20 million dollars they already got for the same purpose.
And you have to wonder why, if the federal government can print money for states to hand out as they’re doing today, why no one could draft a bill that would relieve property tax payers for at least a year, too.
The funding announced Monday is on top of an already handsome $20.7 million previously awarded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. This is the third round of ESSER funds local schools will receive and comes from the American Rescue Plan passed early on during President Joe Biden’s term in office.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says the state’s schools will get $4.9 billion overall from the ESSER Fund in this latest round of funding.
“This extra funding is critical to help schools meet the unique needs of educating students at this time while keeping school buildings safe when students return to the classroom,” Wolf says.
Acting state Education Secretary Noe Nortega says, “Our school communities need these additional resources to invest in instructional materials, equipment, facilities, transportation and more, and we are pleased to make these funds available to them. These funds will provide more assistance to school communities as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”
Schuylkill County Schools Get $33.7M More in ESSER Funds for COVID Assistance
The big winners locally from the latest round of ESSER funds are Pottsville Area, Shenandoah Valley, and Tamaqua Area.
Pottsville Area has now received more than $8.6 million in ESSER funding, which is designed mostly to help schools combat the coronavirus pandemic. However, there are other ways schools can spend this money in the third round of funding.
Here’s a look at how much all Schuylkill County schools came away with from ESSER-III funding. Our table also shows previous rounds of ESSER and how much each school has received so far, just since May 2020:
More COVID Money Going to Local SchoolsOn March 29, 2021, Gov. Tom Wolf announced allocations to school districts in Schuylkill County from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Local schools will get part of the $4.9 billion allocated to Pennsylvania by the federal spending bill.
This is the third round of ESSER funding (ESSER-III) which is money for schools to deal with the COVID pandemic. Through 2 rounds of funding, local schools in Schuylkill County had received more than $20 million.
|School||ESSER-III (March 2021)||ESSER-II (January 2021)||ESSER-I (May 2020)||Total ESSER funding|
|Pine Grove Area||$2,460,168||$1,205,192||$293,565||$3,958,925|
|Saint Clair Area||$1,200,371||$630,449||$153,567||$1,984,387|
|Schuylkill Haven Area||$1,559,623||$770,783||$187,750||$2,518,156|
Shenandoah Valley got more than $4.9 million in this round of ESSER funds. That district has now gotten more than $7.7 million in COVID money. Tamaqua Area has gotten more than $6 million.
Why did schools get what they got from ESSER-III?
According to Wolf, ESSER-III funders were allocated to local school districts by “an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020 under the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
How can schools spend their ESSER-III funding?
Wolf says schools must use 20% of the money they receive from ESSER-III “to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.”
The rest of the 80% can be spent on other interests, like:
- Food service
- Professional training
- Sanitization and cleaning supplies
- Summer programs and after-school programs
- Mental health support