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ESSER

How Lorain City Schools is Using COVID Relief Funds

Lorain Schools will receive and utilize nearly $58 million in pandemic relief funding to help students and families deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but restrictions on how that money is spent will mean levy funding is still desperately needed. 


First, let’s talk about how we are going to use the nearly $58 million in funding to best serve students and families. Lorain Schools received the federal dollars known as Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) after passage of the American Rescue Plan in early 2021. Lorain Schools’ allocations came in three rounds of funding: 


  • Round 1: $3,937,192.99
  • Round 2:  $16,647,146.55
  • Round 3:  $37,413,681.66
  • TOTAL:    $57,998,021.20

  

The funds are restrictive in how Lorain Schools can utilize them. 


“We cannot just put all of those funds into the general fund. Each dollar must be approved by the state prior to its use,” stated District Treasurer Tia Kearney.


So how is Lorain School using ESSER Funds? 


  • Round 1: Cover initial district revenue losses from state budget cuts as well as pay for expenses such as material and postage to mail classwork to students during the shutdown; purchase cleaning supplies and PPE, and purchase computers and hotspots so students and staff could work remotely. 

  • Round 2: Bridge gaps between original needs of the pandemic and beginning stages of the continuity plan, which every district was required to send to the state to show a plan for continuing education throughout the pandemic.

  • Round 3: Address academic and non-academic needs in the continuity plan. This includes: 
    • 1:1 technology to facilitate computer literacy and remote learning in the form of Chromebooks for every student and MacBooks for staff members;
    • Exploring partnerships to provide free citywide internet access, helping to solve one of the top barriers our students faced during the pandemic; 
    • Developing summer extended learning opportunities to help our students recover any loss of learning due to the pandemic (i.e. Summer Camps, Boys and Girls Club after-care, SPARKS Reading Program, and Recovery Learning and Engagement Projects at each building), as well as curriculum and academic support specialists throughout the district;
    • Expanding the arts program and other extracurricular activities that improve engagement and achievement; 
    • Increasing wraparound services, including home liaisons who connect families to services, establishing partnerships to provide additional support including medical vans for dental, vision and mental health services and hiring staff to implement wraparound services;
    • Expanding secondary learning opportunities in our middle schools by hiring teachers to deliver high school courses at the middle schools, including Career and Technical Educational, Early College and foreign languages. 
    • Adding support to Success Academy for students who learn better in our alternative educational setting.


What does that mean? 

Lorain Schools is currently looking at a $66 million deficit by the end of fiscal year 2025. 


The district began deficit spending in 2020, and projects a $14 million deficit by fiscal year 2023 that is projected to grow to $66 million by the end of fiscal year 2025. 


Lorain Schools has not had a new money levy in 9 years. 


As such, voters will see a 6.8-mill levy on the November ballot that if passed will generate about $4.8 million a year and cost taxpayers just under $10 a month with a property valuation at $50,000. 


“We believe this number to be realistic and respectful to our taxpayers,” stated Treasurer Tia Kearney. “If this levy is passed, the district will be able to use closer to $7 million rather than $14 million of the ESSER Funds to balance the deficit for fiscal year 2023. This will allow the district to utilize more ESSER Funds for special projects and initiatives that specifically address the achievement gaps and needs in our district.” 

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