$49 million awarded to Oklahoma school districts that received limited federal aid in pandemic relief

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A bottle of hand sanitizer sits on a cart as Des Moines Public Schools custodian Tracy Harris cleans a chair in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. As the Trump administration pushes full steam ahead to force schools to resume in-person education, public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all reopening could drive infection and death rates even higher. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Department of Education will allocate $49 million in federal relief dollars to 88 Oklahoma school districts that received limited funds under Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced the $49 million allocation, which is part of the set-aside ESSER II dollars provided to the state’s Department of Education, according to an OSDE news release.

“These recipients had received the least amount of federal aid but, like all public school districts throughout our state, are struggling with financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Hofmeister. “These additional foundational dollars will help strengthen their ability to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19.”

Any school district that received less than $550 per student in ESSER II funds was awarded a portion of the $49 million, according to the news release.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act requires that ESSER II allocations be distributed based on Title I funds from fiscal year 2020. Therefore, some school districts that have smaller numbers of high-poverty students received limited relief funding from the $665 million ESSER II allocated to Oklahoma schools.

Some districts indicated they would have had to cut critical staff, including teachers, nurses and counselors, if not for additional funds.

“We appreciate State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education for their steadfast support of Moore Public Schools through this very challenging year,” said Robert Romines, Superintendent of Moore Public Schools. “The ESSER II funding will significantly fill the budget gap we have been preparing to face in our district. This funding will be instrumental for us to continue providing essential services for our students and staff, which include having mental health and medical health professionals in our schools. We will also utilize this allocation to continue building a virtual learning program that is academically and developmentally rigorous.”

School districts that receive a portion of the $49 million can use the money prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19, as well as mitigate learning loss and restore high-quality learning environments.

A breakdown of funds provided to the 88 districts is as follows:

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