Schools on third round of extra federal funding

By Barbie Porter


The Frazee Budget and Facilities Committee were told during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 28 that the federal funding attached to the COVID-19 pandemic may end in fiscal year 2023. 

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are in the third round of district funding. 

The first portion was directed to be used for purchasing masks, fogging machines and other protective equipment. 

Frazee-Vergas School District Superintendent Terry Karger said the second ESSER money totaled $969,000. Of that, $643,000 went into the general fund and the remainder was invested into the STEAM lab to offer hands on learning with science, technology, engineering, art and math.

The third round of ESSER funds will provide $2.1 million to the school district. Karger said 20 percent (about $425,000) must be used on summer enrichment and extended day programming.  

Karger said the direction the school would like to go with the mandatory expenditure is to provide after school tutors for this year and next year. A hurdle for some staying late at school may be with transportation. Karger said some funds would go toward providing a late bus, as well as busing for students in need of credit recovery.

As for summer programming, Karger said the plan this summer and next is to offer extra childhood education classes, as well as community education classes, as well as provide busing transportation.

After the mandated expenditures are made, the district can spend the remaining 80 percent  (or about $1.7 million). Karger explained, because the district is deficit spending about $1 million, staff reductions were being considered. Instead, the funds would allow the district to retain the staff positions. 

In addition, Karger said he would like to use the funds to hire additional staff members, including a half time truancy officer, mental health therapist for both buildings, a half time gifted and talented teacher and another kindergarten teacher. All positions would be funded with the ESSER three monies for this year and next.

Karger said the plan is pending approval from the state. 

He added funding for the school roofs system had been removed from the ESSER expenditures. The reason had to do with an increased quote cost. He said the whole district was quoted at $920,000, and a more recent quote put just the high school building at $800,000.