MCSD spends COVID money

MCSD spends COVID money

Kate Donohoe, News Reporter

Montrose County School District received COVID relief funds throughout 2020 and 2021 to address needs within the district in the wake of the pandemic. The money was obtained through three stimulus bills passed by Congress- $4.4 million from the CARES Act in March 2020 ($3.4M CRF and $1M ESSER I); $4.1 million from the CRRSA Act in December 2020 (ESSER II); and $9.2 million from the ARP Act in March 2021.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds were granted to the district in three rounds and were intended to address the immediate crisis (ESSER I), stabilize and manage the health crisis (ESSER II), and aid in recovery and acceleration (ESSER III). Expenses regarding substitute teachers, learning loss, and extended learning opportunities were to be main points of focus along with contact tracing, testing, equipment, and screenings.

“The 20/21 school year was a very complicated year meeting the educational and social-emotional needs of students,” MCSD Director of Finance Emily Imus said. “In addition to providing education, schools were tasked with managing the health crisis by establishing and maintaining processes for contact racing, quarantines, and communicating with families on the ever-evolving health pandemic.”

Thus far, the funds have primarily been put towards cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, substitute teachers, employee leave, technology and remote learning staff training, summer school, school supplies, and HVAC in classrooms. Some of the funds have also been allocated toward the development of the Outer Range outdoor campus and the Extended Learning Network.

“The majority of funds have been spent to offset the increase in substitutes, some transportation fees, extended learning network, outdoor learning opportunities, [and] HVAC across several schools,” MCSD Executive Director of Academic Services Jessica Beller said.

The funds allocated to the Montrose County School District are being used throughout individual schools, as well as throughout the district as a whole. Individual schools have received additional funding in the form of increased school budgets to address issues created by the pandemic, mini-grants for professional development for staff, mitigation supplies, and building reconfigurations.

“The funding comes with strings attached with strict rules and regulations on how it can be spent,” Imus said. “It can only be spent on COVID related needs and the funding is not available to the District until a detailed plan is submitted to the Colorado Department of Education about how the money is being spent. After a review process and final approval is granted, MCSD can request to be reimbursed for expenses to be covered by the grants.”