SCHOOLS ON TAP TO GET $20 MILLION IN FEDERAL AID

Monroe County School District has received emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had at its elementary and secondary schools. Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Just as many U.S. citizens have been receiving stimulus payments from the federal government throughout this pandemic, the Monroe County School District has received emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had at its elementary and secondary schools. 

According to Amber Archer Acevedo, coordinator of community relations for Monroe County School District, the district so far has received $1.3 million for the first round of stimulus payments. The district has also applied for and will probably be approved for a $5.8 million second-round stimulus payment. 

In the near future, MCSD will have the opportunity to apply for a third stimulus payment, this one for the biggest amount yet: $13 million.

In addition, an expanded summer program, open to all students called the Monroe Summer BEACH (Becoming Engaged and Confident Healthy Kids), has been given an official green light by the district.

The stimulus payments come from the U.S. Department of Education, which doles them out to state educational agencies. The states in turn give the stimulus payments to the school districts that apply for them in a grant-like process. This money is called the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Relief) Fund.

Beverly Anders, MCSD’s executive director of finance and performance, said the $1.3 million stimulus (called ESSER I funds) was used to pay for PPE [personal protection equipment] and cleaning supplies for staff and students, costs to deliver food to students during the summer, virtual curriculum and additional furniture and tents that allowed all students and staff to be socially distanced.

Anders also said the ESSER II funds (the $5.8 million stimulus) will be used to help fund summer school, all forms of before- and after-school tutoring, mental health education and training, as well as social workers and additional counselors to address student learning gaps and social issues stemming from the pandemic.

The $5.8 million payment will also be used for the expanded summer school open to all students, the Monroe Summer BEACH program. Acedevo pointed out the summer school will still have a typical curriculum to address the students who need remediation and credit retrieval, but expanded offerings funded by ESSER II — art, theater and physical activities — will be announced soon.

“We have not applied yet for the $13 million ESSER III funds as they have not become available from the state yet,” said Anders. “We haven’t put a plan together yet for how that will be spent at this point.”

“The ESSER funds will be used to address learning losses and the mental health needs of our students,” stated MCSD Superintendent Theresa Axford. “We are grateful for the funds that will allow us to focus on areas of critical concerns related to the effects of the COVID pandemic.”

 

Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.