Two pools of money from the federal CARES Act will provide Delaware public schools with nearly $50 million to cover additional costs incurred as they adjust their routines during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The state received $43.5 million in the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund, known as ESSER, and another $7.9 million in the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), according to Chuck Longfellow, who left his post as associate secretary of the state Department of Education early this month to become chief financial officer of the Christina School District.
It is too soon to tell, however, whether those funds will be sufficient to cover all the extra expenses incurred by districts and charter schools. If not, they will have to use funds from their annual state appropriations and local property tax collections.
Districts and charter schools anticipate new or increased spending in several areas, including the purchase of sanitizing supplies, additional cleaning and custodial costs and technology devices. One idea mentioned at meetings of the Department of Education’s School Reopening Working Groups was to outfit student desks with Plexiglas barriers, like those recently installed at checkout stations in retail stores.
Laretha Odumosu, middle school executive director at the Charter School of New Castle, said she has been told that these barriers could cost from $150 to $300 per desk. “If that’s a requirement, it would be very costly for every school,” she said.
Ten percent of the ESSER funding has been allocated to the Department of Education, Longfellow said. The remaining 90 percent, a little more than $39 million, has been divided among the 19 districts and 22 charter schools according to the formula the federal government uses for allocating funds under its Title I programs, he said. Under that formula, larger amounts are sent to schools that have higher concentrations of low-income students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.
Of the school districts, Christina is receiving the most, $5,911,215.00, and Polytech the least, $151,778. Among charter schools, grants ranged from $12,851 for the Charter School of Wilmington to $493,977 for Thomas Edison.
Districts and charter schools will have to apply for the GEER funds, which will be awarded on a competitive basis, Gov. John Carney said this week. “Objective criteria” will be used in determining the awards, he said, but he did not spell out those criteria at his media briefing on Tuesday. Priority will be given to applications that address four areas: internet connectivity for students; social-emotional learning needs; instructional techniques, especially those associated with distance learning; and equity issues associated with students who have difficulty with connectivity and learning.
Some of the $7.9 million will be used to augment “Opportunity Funding,” a three-year, $60 million program aimed to close achievement gaps for low-income students, English learners and children with special needs.
Here is a list of ESSER allocations:
- Caesar Rodney - $1,955,608
- Capital - $2,801,040
- Lake Forest - $1,304,799
- Laurel - $ 809,118
- Cape Henlopen - $1,170,086
- Milford - $1,396,798
- Seaford - $1,664,210
- Smyrna - $839,363
- Appoquinimink - $844,120
- Brandywine - $2,635,003
- Red Clay - $5,283,892
- Christina - $5,911,215
- Colonial - $3,388,876
- Woodbridge - $1,040,543
- Indian River - $2,880,824
- Delmar - $227,828
- NCC Votech - $1,099,141
- POLYTECH - $151,778
- Sussex Tech - $160,024
- Aspira Academy - $169,170
- Charter School of Wilmington - $12,851
- Positive Outcomes - $32,696
- East Side - $298,471
- Campus Community - $147,361
- Thomas Edison - $493,977
- Sussex Academy - $23,170
- Delaware Military Academy - $13,326
- Charter School of New Castle - $335,956
- Kuumba Academy - $388,817
- Academy of Dover - $157,430
- Odyssey Charter - $214,137
- Providence Creek - $84,556
- MOT Charter - $20,148
- Newark Charter - $59,738
- Gateway Lab - $64,282
- Early College HS at DSU - $109,333
- Academia Antonio Alonso - $295,742
- First State Montessori - $53,148
- First State Military - $82,155
- Great Oaks Charter School - $221,914
- Freire Charter School - $200,834