Lawrence school district set to receive $6 million in COVID-19 relief funding

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

The Lawrence school district is set to receive a little more than $6 million of federal funding to continue covering costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

In a plan that was recently approved by the Kansas State Department of Education, the district indicates that it wants to use those dollars toward supporting school intervention programs and mental health services, among other things.

However, the district finance director, Kathy Johnson, said the multiyear spending plan was a living document and could be updated as time goes on.

“As we know, so many things can change at the drop of a hat,” Johnson said.

The education department approved the district’s application for the funding on Monday as part of its overall state plan, which totals about $830 million. The funding is provided through the federal government’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, which was approved in March as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Background:

Kansas public schools calculating how to spend $830 million in federal pandemic aid

The district’s allotment, $6.03 million, was determined by a federal funding formula, which takes into account student enrollment and other factors like socioeconomic standing, Johnson said.

The funds have not been directly provided to the district, but the approval from the state department means the district can now move forward with its planned spending. Johnson said the dollars would not be provided in a lump sum, but rather as reimbursements when spending is reported to the state each month. She said that would likely begin in July.

Similar to previous COVID-19 relief funding, the dollars must be spent on costs linked to the pandemic. Johnson said the funding also required the district to report data on how the money was used and how it helped in certain areas, such as student achievement.

Johnson said a majority of the funding was slated to be used during the 2021-22 school year. Along with the academic interventions, such as enhanced summer school programs that aim to address learning loss among students over the last year, she said the plan also focused on providing mental health support for students and staff.

The plan also includes purchasing additional personal protective equipment and supplies to bolster the district’s air purifiers and HVAC systems in buildings.

The district’s 23-page plan can be found on the education department’s website, www.ksde.org.


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