What impact will federal COVID-19 relief funds have on Exeter?

Over the past year, the federal government has allocated billions in relief funds to the nation’s school districts as part of an effort to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education.

Three separate funds have been designated known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. ESSER funds are distributed to states based on each state’s proportionate share of Title I-A funding. The funds are intended to support COVID-19 response efforts and may be spent on a wide range of allowable activities.

Despite the obvious monetary benefit, the funds seek to give districts the ability to address a multitude of different initiatives. Learning loss suffered from the pandemic is one major push; and 20% of the money distributed from the last round of funding must be used to cover it.

The following amounts were allocated for the Exeter Township School District:

  • ESSER I (May 2020)
    • $355,585
    • Must be spent by September 2022
  • ESSER II (January 2021)
    • $1,524,528
    • Must be spent by September 2023
  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) ESSER (March 2021)
    • $3,158,380
    • Minimum of 20% of funds must be used to address learning loss
    • Must be spent by September 2024

Based on their ESSER II grant application, the school district plans to use the $1.52 million in funds for summer learning, benchmarking, and HVAC improvements.

A budget presentation is slated for the school board’s committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 6, at 6 p.m. I’m hoping to get a better picture of the pandemic’s impact in the coming weeks as the district prepares to review its proposed final budget for the 2021-22 school year.

Click here for more information on Pennsylvania ESSER funds.

Jason Mell is running for a 4-year term on the Exeter Township School Board. He is a Planning Commissioner for Exeter Township and the former owner of The Exeter Informant. To read more about Jason, visit jasonmell.com.