SWFL schools to receive additional COVID relief funds

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Enhancing academic programs, providing better mental health initiatives, and employee bonuses – these are some of the ways the School District of Lee County plans to spend additional funding from the latest federal coronavirus relief package.

Congress in 2020 and 2021 passed three stimulus bills to provide more than $190 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund.

The Florida Department of Education will continue to use the funds to focus on closing achievement gaps, support literacy, and make sure their students and staff are safe and healthy.

There are guidelines each district must follow as to how they can use the funds, so they must submit a plan beforehand to be approved by the state.

Ami Desamours, Ph.D., chief financial officer at the School District of Lee County, said the second round of funds, known as ESSER II, will be $84 million for the district, and a third batch of funding adds up to $174 million.

“Very much needed funds that we’re receiving through the federal government right now, which we are very thankful for. But these funds are over a period of time, so it’s not just for one year. Our ESSER II funds we have available to spend through 2023 and our ESSER III funds we have available to spend through 2024,” she said.

That extra funding has not yet been received. Desa-More said they expect to receive it by September.

Charlotte and Collier County schools will also be receiving federal funds.

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