Charleston Co. School District to submit draft plan for $163 million in ESSER funding

Plan calls for money to be spent on 6 key areas, including addressing learning loss
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:40 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is preparing to submit its plans for how to spend more than $163 million in federal funding to help schools amid the pandemic.

The district is set to submit its draft plan for how to spend the funds it will get as part of the third wave of funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund on Tuesday.

During Monday evening’s school board meeting, board members got an overview of what that plan looks like and voted to affirm the district’s main priorities for the money.

The six priorities include addressing the needs of low-income students, planning and implementing summer learning and after school programs, providing mental health services and support, upgrading educational technology, improving indoor air quality and most significantly addressing learning loss.

Federal guidelines require at least 20% of the funding go toward learning loss, but the plan district officials laid out surpasses that. The nearly $41 million directly allocated to addressing learning loss is one-quarter of the whole grant.

To address learning loss, the district plans to hire additional student support coaches and social workers, provide enrichment tutoring in English/language arts and math and implement new curricula in those subjects.

Those priorities came up following months of public comments and thousands of surveys of parents and district employees.

“$146 million – 90% of the grant – we’re proposing go towards the stakeholder priorities and those activities that support students and teachers,” Steve Hamer, who presented the district’s plan, said.

While the district has to submit its draft plan by tomorrow, Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait said there will still be opportunities for people to share their thoughts before the money is spent.

“May through July, our district focused intently on community engagement efforts, and there’s more to come,” she said. “That was just the beginning; there’s a whole lot more work to do with every single community in the district.”

The board also voted to create an advisory team of five to seven people who will meet at least once per semester to give board members a chance to make revisions to the plan and monitor its implementation.

The board is set to get a more refined version of the plan in January.

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