Hawkins County Schools will receive $16.4 million in Phase 3 ESSER funding, of which director of schools Matt Hixson proposes using a substantial amount for facility improvements.
ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) is the school system equivalent of the COVID 19 federal stimulus funding that counties are receiving.
At the Oct. 7 Hawkins County Board of Education meeting Hixson presented the BOE with his proposed plan for ESSER 3. One stipulation of the ESSER funds is that 20 percent go toward instructional programs.
To meet that 20 percent requirement Hixson proposes $1 million to cover the cost of summer school for 600 targeted students; $200,000 for reading, math and STEM interventionists; $100,000 for CTE (Career Technical Education) expansion of the Fire Science program; and $3.3 million for academic materials such as teacher laptops and docking stations; interactive boards; and ZOOM, Canvas, Google classroom and similar platforms.
Hixson said the remainder of ESSER 3 funds are being used for “Large scale expenditures that we couldn’t pay for in our existing annual budget are being targeted through these one time federal funds.”
Facility improvement proposed for ESSER 3
- Cherokee and Volunteer’s remaining $4.2 million cost for recent HVAC system replacements.
- Install air conditioning at all remaining school gyms for $2.25 million.
- New HVAC system at Hawkins Elementary for $1.2 million.
- Renovation of the Bus Shop training center for $2 million. Hixson said the training center needs a new roof and air conditioning.
- Electronic access to all buildings which would require I.D.s to enter the building for $1 million
- Updated school secured entrances for a total of $850,000. Hixson noted that at some schools, once you enter the school there’s a direct access to main hallways and and to the office without another set of doors that someone “up to no good” would have to get through.
“We’re looking at replacing the exterior doors at both high schools,” Hixson said. “The way those were built, they’re completely rusting out.”
- Cafeteria tables and a walk-in cooler at Carters Valley Elementary for $49,000.
- Replacing water fountains why water bottle filling stations for $15,520.
ESSER 1 & 2 expenditures
Hawkins County Schools received $1.75 million in ESSER 1 and used those funds for summer school and academic materials during COVID 2020, which cost $1.5 million; as well s another $100,000 in instructional technology support.
ESSER 2 was $7.3 million of which $2.25 million was used for summer school 2021; and $1.3 million was used for academic technology, curriculum or resources such as Special Education Compensatory; Content fillers, ZOOM contract, Canvas, ISL and Skyward; Chromebooks; and math interventionists.
ESSER 2 also had $3.8 million earmarked for part of the Cherokee and Volunteer HVAC project.
“We’ve been extremely good stewards of this money, and any overages that we’ve estimated can be rolled over to the next year, we’ve been able to account for a lot of that and pick up additional projects,” Hixson said. “As we have those pickups, I will continue to bring those back to the board, and to the (County Commission’s) Education Committee so they can be informed on what we’re spending this money on.”
The school system doesn’t receive the funding up front. It makes approved purchases, and then receives a reimbursement.