Clark, Champaign schools eligible for over $24 million in federal money

Schools in Clark and Champaign Counties are eligible for more than $24 million in federal aid from the second COVID relief bill passed late last year but are still waiting to find out how much they will receive from a third round of relief funding that was signed into law in March.

All schools will get some funding from the second package became law in December, but those in poorer communities will get larger shares, as the formula is tied to Title 1 funding for low-income areas. This means that while Tecumseh Local Schools will get just over $2 million and Urbana City Schools get just over $1 million, Springfield City Schools’ allocation from the second stimulus bill is $13.6 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money (ESSER 2).

Federal funding allocations vary between $273,000 and over $13 million by district. Tecumseh Local Schools’ allocation is $2.3 million, Urbana City Schools will get over $1.7 million and Clark-Shawnee Local will receive $1.1 million, according to ESSER 2 data. The rest of the districts will get between $273,000 and $984,000 - Northeastern, Graham, Northwestern, Greenon, Triad Southeastern, West Liberty-Salem, Mechanicsburg and Global Impact STEM Academy.

The Springfield City School District was allocated the highest amount in both counties at $13,628,881.19.

“The Springfield City School District will leverage the funds to address any learning loss that occurred due to the pandemic through summer enrichment opportunities. In addition, these funds will support ongoing strategies associated with our learning loss plan,” said Superintendent Bob Hill.

The second highest allocation was given to Tecumseh at $2.3 million, in which they are currently budgeting.

“We plan to utilize a portion of this funding to financially support our Learning Recovery Plan. One area of the plan includes offering a six-week Summer Learning Program,” said Superintendent Paula Crew. “The Summer Learning Program will embed elements of social and emotional learning support as well as academic strategies.”

Crew said a good portion of the funding, between $300,000 and $350,000, will be used to support their summer efforts.

Along with those efforts, Crew said the district will also purchase learning supports and materials for the upcoming school years.

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“Other areas we are considering for use of the ESSER II funding include technology upgrades such as building security and cameras, network backbone, and student technology devices, offset the revenue loss to our Child Nutrition Department during the pandemic, and reduce a small percentage of the deficit spending in our district by offsetting a portion of our current salaries and benefits costs,” she said.

Urbana was allocated $1.7 million, which the district’s superintendent said “mean a great deal” to them. It’s the highest amount in Champaign County and the third largest amount for the two counties.

“We are in the planning process to determine how to use the funds to implement additional academic and mental health supports for our students. Some of the considerations for the use of the allocation will be to protect our general fund and to carefully use these dollars to not create a future burden of additional expenditures,” said Superintendent Charles Thiel.

Thiel said although they have been fortunate to have students in face-to-face instruction throughout the year, there are still instructional and behavioral issues caused by the pandemic that need to be addressed.

“Some of the funds will be used to implement additional safety and sanitation measures to deal with the pandemic,” he said.

Each of those schools may double what they received from the second COVID relief fund when allocations are determined from the third stimulus fund, the American Rescue Plan that passed in March.

Ohio Department of Education officials say their best estimate is that public districts, charter and STEM schools should multiply their second stimulus amount by 2.2 to figure their future third stimulus allocation. This means Springfield City Schools could be eligible for another roughly $29 million from the third federal stimulus bill.

“Any additional funding received by our District during the pandemic is always appreciated,” Hill said.

The money can be used in a wide range of ways, including efforts to address learning loss, reopening costs and school building improvements, especially those related to air quality. Eligible expenses will be reimbursed.

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School districtESSER II Allocation
Clark County 
Global Impact STEM Academy$273,201.80
Champaign County 
West Liberty-Salem$377,356.44
Private schools 
Catholic Central$609,028.58
Emmanuel Christian Academy$225,831.34
Nightingale Montessori$166,743.75
Risen Christ Lutheran$77,998.84
Springfield Christian$125,353.46
Springfield Preparatory and Fitness Academy$339,567.21

Local private schools have also been allocated federal funds from the second stimulus bill. The amounts range from $609,000 for Catholic Central, to $225,000 for Emmanuel Christian Academy, to $77,000 for Risen Christ Lutheran School.

Officials at some schools are cautious until money is in their hands, but Emmanuel Christian Academy said a few things were possible with the funds.

“We plan to use the monies for a variety of things ranging from supplies to air purification to classroom technology upgrades,” said Superintendent John Essig. “The most exciting piece is the latest generation of SMART boards that interface with classroom camera and mic as well as Google Classroom. With them, a teacher will be able to draw on the board or show a video that appears on the students Chromebooks. The microphone and camera afford quality two-way interactions with remote learning students.”

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ODE officials said money will be included for private schools in the third stimulus bill, too, but rather than doubling, as it does for public and charter schools, the funding amount is a repeat of Ohio’s same $154.9 million from the second stimulus.

It has been a complicated 12-month period for school funding — local schools lost some state funding both late in the ’19-’20 school year and for the ’20-’21 year, due to COVID-related state cut. But Ohio House Bill 164 helped lessen losses for a few local suburban schools, and then part of the ’20-’21 state cuts were reversed for all.

The three rounds of federal relief funding will more than make up for the state losses. They give wealthier districts a small excess, and low-income districts a huge surge in funding.

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