Lower Dauphin will receive more than $6 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding to help offset learning loss and other needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds must be spent to cover expenditures between the start of the pandemic on March 13, 2020 and September 30, 2024.
The grants are to focus on:
- Response efforts and preparedness to address COVID-19;
- Educational technology needs;
- Supplies for school openings and mitigation efforts;
- Facilities improvements;
- Additionally, at least 20 percent must go to addressing learning loss.
The first round of federal funding (ESSER I) was for $365,894 and was used to purchase technology hardware and software to support remote learning; health supplies; custodial and maintenance supplies; and additional cafeteria tables at the high school and middle school to support social-distancing at lunch time. These funds must be expended by September 2022.
The next round of funding (ESSER II) was for $1.8 million and is earmarked for technology purchases; HVAC system components at the high school and a boiler at East Hanover Elementary School; and staffing to support eLearning and social and emotional health. These funds must be expended by September 2023.
The final round of federal ESSER funding came under the auspices of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP ESSER) and amounted to $3.7 million. These funds are also earmarked for technology purchases (specifically laptops for sixth-graders and iPads for elementary-aged students); HVAC system components to improve air circulation and quality and a new boiler at the high school; and staffing to support eLearning students in grades 2-3 and district students in the Capital Area Online Association online school and social and emotional health. Additionally, the funding will be used to provide summer school and extended school year services and transportation to address learning losses due to the pandemic. These funds must be expended by September 2024.
The district also received $206,583 from the state Department of Education from its own ARP ESSER allocation, which must be used to address the academic, social and emotional needs of students. These funds will be used for mental health supports for students; purchases of instructional materials in elementary math and reading; and staff professional development trainings. Additionally, these funds will support the district’s summer programs and provide opportunities for after-school tutoring programs. These funds must be expended by September 2024.