Charleston Co. schools breaks down where federal grant money will go

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 2:33 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 8:02 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District has selected 47 community-based organizations to receive millions of dollars in federal COVID relief money.

The list, presented at Monday’s board meeting, includes 37 groups that submitted Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding proposals last summer and another 10 groups that come at the request of individual school administrations.

That list contains many of the groups responsible for the most expensive proposals – The Community Resource Center, The Lincoln Heritage Project and Reading Partners, each of which had proposals costing more than a million dollars. The single largest proposal came from the Charity Foundation with a price tag of $43 million. The Charity Foundation is listed among the approved CBOs.

The Coastal Community Foundation and the controversial Reimagine Schools proposal was not listed among the approved CBOs.

Interim Superintendent Don Kennedy says the district has not approved any allocations to these groups yet and the list is not final. He says some of the original 71 proposals may be combined and they could still add others.

In total, the district received $163 million in ESSER III Funds. The money is designed to help students get caught up from any learning loss that may have occurred during the pandemic.

The district has broken the $163 million into four large categories:

  • $15.8 million for charter schools
  • $28 million for non-charter schools
  • $43.5 million for non-academic uses
  • $76 million for district-wide programs

The $28 million for individual schools is not being divided equally. Instead, the district is allocating the money based on how many students are reading on grade level. However, the district has not revealed the individual allocations of each school yet.

Each school has submitted a plan for how they want to use their allocation. For elementary schools, which will receive 75% of the $28 million, principals want to use the money on afterschool and summer programs and more planning time for teachers.

Of the $43.5 million dedicated to non-academic uses, the district has targeted the following projects and programs, many of which are already in the works:

  • $20.3 million for improving air quality
  • $5.7 million for developing and implementing health protocols
  • $5.4 million for educational technology
  • $5.2 million for planning, coordination, and implementing school closures during the pandemic
  • $2.5 million for other activities to maintain continuity of services
  • $2.3 million for supplies to sanitize and clean facilities
  • $1.6 million for activities authorized under ESEA, IDEA, AEFLA and Perkins Act (Achieve Charleston)
  • $0.5 million for improving preparedness and response efforts.

The largest pool of money – $76 million - is for district wide programs. That money is further divided into three pillars aimed at supporting the goal of have students reading on grade level by 5th grade.

The first pillar is for the development of “rigorous” instruction. The district has allocated $33.8 million for funding:

  • $10 million for improved reading curriculum
  • $5 million for early childhood expansion
  • $2.8 million for targeted supports for multilingual learners
  • $11 million for Summer Enrichment Program
  • $5 million for prioritizing support of Acceleration Schools through 2024

There’s $22 million allocated for pillar two, dedicated to recruiting and retaining teachers. The funding supports a number of different programs with $12 million set for recruitment and $10 million for retention.

The final pillar is for wrap-around services, primarily focused on addressing the mental health of students. There’s $20.3 million dedicated to this category to fund:

  • $14.3 million for mental health & wellness positions
  • $1.6 million for training and professional development
  • $1 million for contracted mental health services
  • $1 million for materials for calming rooms/kits
  • $2.3 million for additional student supports

The district has begun using this money on projects like the calming rooms and for hiring new mental health employees.

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