Thursday, September 28, 2023

York County School Division Awarded $5.2 Million in Emergency Relief Grants

The York County School Division is asking division stakeholders to fill out a survey to help develop a plan on the use of COVID-19 relief funds. (WYDaily file)

YORK COUNTY — The school board for the York County School Division (YCSD) met for its monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 23. The main topic for the three hour meeting was how the district would spend the $5.2 million in grants it received from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) grant.

The ESSER III fund is part of the American Rescue Plan Act and is designed to help school divisions safely reopen and sustain safe operations of schools, while addressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to qualify for the three year grant, school divisions were required to take input from stakeholders in the community as well as reserving a minimum of 20 percent of the awarded funds be set aside to address unfinished learning concerns that have arisen during the lockdown.

This past July, YCSD sent out a survey to stakeholders in the community, as well as posting it on the YCSD website from July 8 to July 15. Of the 1,477 people who filled out the survey, 80 percent were parents or family members of students and 17 percent were teachers.

Using the results of that survey, YCSD officials wrote a draft budget and developed proposed expenditures to be presented to the board and posted on the school division website.

Dr. Vika Stephenson, YCSD grant coordinator and writer, presented the board with the results of the stakeholder survey as well as the proposed budget.

Stephenson said that the feedback showed that the top five categories stakeholders wanted to fund were, mental health support, purchasing of educational technology, support school leaders and school needs, unfinished learning and indoor air quality.

Other areas that were emphasized in the survey results was a need for more after school and summer education programs as well as more opportunities for tutoring.

During the public comment section of the meeting regarding the ESSER III grant, three members addressed their concerns. Carol Bauer, teacher in the division, asked the board to consider using funds to provide for administrative leave for staff in cases of quarantine.

In her statement to the board, Bauer said, “We appreciate that less chances of quarantine this year, but because staff is being asked to be in close contact with students, most of which are unvaccinated, it is important that YCSD supports educators and not require the use of sick leave if quarantine is necessary.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the ESSER III plan.

WYDaily will continue to keep you informed on this developing story.

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