Oregon schools to get $3.9 million in relief funds

Kelly J. Kaczala

        The Oregon City Schools District is expected to receive $3.9 million as part of the Federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds in response to needs caused by the pandemic.
        “It’s coming our way,” said Superintendent Hal Gregory. “Every district is getting something.”
        The $3.9 million is the third allotment of ESSER funds to be received by the district, said Gregory.
        “The first ESSER funds were a little over $444,000. The second was $1.75 million. The third we discussed at a special meeting in July and it is for $3.9 million. The third one we haven’t received yet. We have to put in an application grant, but we’re working on that now. It’s due Aug. 20.”
        “The first two ESSER funds had their own parameters. The ESSER 3 funds are more restrictive. Twenty percent of the ESSER 3 funds have to be used for summer and after school activities. So we have to use it for that,” he said.
        Some of the areas in which the ESSER 3 funds can be used for include:
        •Purchase supplies to clean and sanitize school facilities;
        •Purchase educational technology (including hardware, software and connectivity) for students, including low income and Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA);
         •Provide mental health services and supports;
        •School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs;
        •Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement;
        •Provide principals and other school leaders with resources necessary to address needs of their individual schools;
        •Other activities necessary to maintain the operations and continuity of services in the schools and continuing to employ existing staff.
        “We’d like to use a portion for upgrades throughout the district,” said Gregory. “Some could be used for windows and our HVAC system. This isn’t completely agreed upon. These are areas we’re discussing. We haven’t made any final decisions, nor has it been approved by the state.”
        The board has also discussed using the funds for upgrading technology and upgrading safety software and services.
        “We’ve been using our safety software and services for 10 years. It’s time for an update on our software for our safety systems,” he said.


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