County school system earmarks remaining COVID funds

Special to Atmore News

You might have forgotten about those billions of dollars the federal government sent to states during COVID-19.
The Escambia County School System hasn’t. And the remaining funds are about to be spent improving our schools.
Under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund), the school systems were granted emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had on elementary and secondary schools across the nation. During the 2020-2021 school year, funds were used for “personal protection equipment.” For example, hand sanitizer, soap, gloves, masks, face shields, and cleaning supplies to keep students and staff safe.
Assistant Superintendent Michele Collier, in collaboration with the Chief Financial Officer, federal programs accountant, and federal programs supervisor, has been working for weeks to make sure the remaining money is well spent.
“Currently, we are preparing to replace our student devices to move to a one-to-one learning environment as well as provide the necessary curriculum and professional development needed for teachers to reach and engage students,” Collier said. “Additional plans include upgrades for our intercom systems in the schools. We are preparing for summer reading and math camps for grades K-3, math camps for grades 4-5, and summer school for grades 1-11.”
Those “student devices” are 3,000 new Chromebooks which will be used during the next school year.
Collier said the expenditures will have an instant effect on the quality of both education and the environment in which students learn.
“We have allocated funding through 2024 to provide intervention teachers, math coaches, nurses, social workers, extended day programs, and summer learning opportunities,” she said. “Additionally, Escambia County has designated funds to upgrade HVACs, replace outdated carpets with new flooring, and classroom upgrades.”

Brewton resident Randy Tatano is a veteran TV news reporter and network producer, and is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System