ESSER program future discussed at Garden City school board meeting

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Flags blow in the wind outside the USD 457 Educational Support Center, 1205 N. Fleming St.

The Garden City Unified School District 457 Board of Education was given an update on the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief program and its remaining funds at the board's regular meeting Monday.

KJ Knoll, USD 457's financial officer, said the board approved the ESSER program, which comes from CARES Act funding, at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, and the update was about presenting ideas for the remaining funds, which probably won't be spent until next year.

"We wanted to make sure the board understood there's these different buckets of funding and there's different things we can do with them," she said.

Knoll said one of the things discussed at the meeting is there are remaining funds, but they haven't been used because the school district has to have a plan on how it's going to spend these dollars — they can't just spent on anything. 

"We want to make sure that we're spending them in a deliberate manner that's going to actually have an impact for our students," she said. "ESSER II and ESSER III funds don't have to be spent until 2023 and 2024, so we won't spend those dollars for a while, we still need to invest in current strategies and see where we're at to make sure we're going to use those dollars wisely."

Roy Cessna, USD 457 public information officer, said the goal with the ESSER funds is to help the students academically, to get them at grade level or above grade level in response to any gaps caused by schooling interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cessna said the update was a 30,000-foot overview of ESSER, how funds have already been invested and how the remaining funds could be invested in the future to enhance instruction.

"As we proceed forward, we'll kind of drill down further and make those plans a little more concrete," he said. "We just want to let the board know that we do have plans and we're looking at the second and third bucket (of funds) on ways to enhance instruction in the district."

In other business, the board heard a report on Individual Plans of Study from high school and middle school counselors KaeLee Armstrong, Kelly Pitts and Mary Guymon. The program Xello is used to help students see what their interests are to help find a future career. Xello engages students in college and career readiness.

Additionally, the board approved new courses with Garden City Community College. They include Art Appreciation, American History since 1877, American History to 1877, Creative Writing, Music History and Appreciation and Basic Nutrition.