◆ How should LCSD No. 2 spend ESSER III funds?
Lincoln County School District No. 2 is seeking input regarding utilization of funds that the district is receiving from the Wyoming Department of Education through the American CARES Act.
School districts throughout the nation have received two prior allotments of federal government funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These allotments are called Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER). LCSD No. 2, like other districts throughout the country, has received the ESSER funding. Through the ESSER, a third round of funding is now being allotted to districts nation-wide. Unlike the two previous allotments, however, ESSER III requires districts to complete an application process.
As part of that process, LCSD No. 2 is inviting all stakeholders, not just parents, to be part of the process in creating a plan to utilize the funds that they are applying to receive. Individuals who respond to the survey will be asked to provide their name and contact information. LCSD No. 2 administrators want to be able to follow up with anyone who has a good suggestion or a valid concern. They want to be able to keep communication lines open and keep the process transparent.
“Our district is on tap to receive funds through this, and the federal government is expecting us, as part of the application process through the Wyoming Department of Education, to conduct two stakeholder surveys,” explained Matt Erickson, LCSD No. 2 Superintendent. “One of the surveys contains only one question. The other explores ESSER III legal funding options and invites the public to communicate their personal opinions to us about how they feel we need to use this money.”
Receiving an allotment of these funds is a three-part process. LCSD No. 2 has already completed much of the process to apply for the funds. They have completed the 2021 Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity Plan, which was originally the Smart Start plan that the district created during the spring and summer of 2020. The plan has been updated nearly monthly since its inception and has now evolved into what the Federal Government calls the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity Plan.
“That title is somewhat inaccurate for our district because we have been experiencing in-person instruction for a year and a half now,” explained Erickson. “Some districts in some states haven’t had that opportunity, but this is what the Fed requires us to do even though we have already been face-to-face and have worked through this process. We are required to provide a survey and solicit feedback from the public about use of the funds. Twenty percent of the funds must be dedicated to addressing any learning loss due to remote schooling during the pandemic.”
ESSER III funds will only be received once, so the district is looking at providing extra opportunities to students for learning and healing with these funds.
Some individuals have suggested to district personnel that they should return the funds to the state. According to Erickson, Wyoming has already received the funds and Governor Mark Gordon has already allotted appropriate amounts to each school district throughout the state based on financial need that is established by Free and Reduced Meal qualifications. If LCSD No. 2 were to return the funds to the state, Governor Gordon would simply redistribute the funds to other districts. Returning the funds would not relieve the national debt, and LCSD No. 2 would lose an opportunity to support students and families.
Stakeholders are invited to visit LCSD2.org or the district Facebook page to respond to the surveys. Links and QR codes are also available at SVInews.com. Surveys are live now and will be available until December 31 at 11:59 p.m. Link and QR codes will not be emailed through the school mass communication avenues, because the district feels that those communication systems need to be reserved for safety and educational notifications.
These surveys can be found at the QR codes pictured with this article and at the following links: