Oklahoma City Public Schools held a work session Monday as the district makes plans on how to spend $164 million worth of pandemic relief funds.
Districts have about three years to make plans for and spend the American Rescue Plan money that came as the third round of federal funding to support schools during the pandemic.
Most school districts have their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER plans, available on their websites to review or by request.
The first two rounds of CARES Act money largely served to help schools pivot to virtual learning, buy hotspots and PPE, and then return to the classroom safely with additional support for unfinished learning.
A part of the U.S. Department of Education's rules for this round of funds is to work with the community to find the best ways to make long term investments.
“We are within the first few months of a three-year program. So, we knew we were going to put this together. We were going to go the very best we could. We were going to launch it, then we were going to come back routinely to this board, and begin filling in gaps,” said Sean McDaniels, superintendent of OKCPS.
APR 20% of the funding must be used to address unfinished learning and student achievement, which includes social and emotional learning.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education suggests evidence-based interventions like summer learning and enrichment programs, extended day programs, comprehensive after school programs, and extended school year programs.
OKCPS sent out an online survey to families and met with stakeholders to gather feedback on which options work for the community.
“There are some that marked extended day or extended year on the survey. What it told us was that it may not be as feasible in our district or as anticipated or encouraged for us to extend the school calendar or extend the day by an hour or an hour and a half,” said Jason Brown, deputy superintendent of OKCPS.
OKCPS will continue to gather input and update the plan through the life of this funding which must be spent by September 2024.