A look at Darien 61's ESSER funds
District 61 received the following federal government CARES Act and ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
June, 2020- Initial CARES Act (ESSER 1): $157,735
Fall 2020- ESSER 2: $628,025
Fall 2021- ESSER 3: $1,454,434
How is District 61 using its ESSER funds?
District 61's ESSER funds are being used for the costs incurred and added to its normal operations due to COVID-19.
CARES Act/ESSER 1 funds were used for:
- Technology purchases of equipment and licenses needed for the 1:1 atmosphere of remote learning for students in grades PreK- 2nd grade.
- New cleaning supplies
- Improved HVAC air filtration in all schools- MERV 13 air filters
ESSER 2 funds were used largely to address the following:
- Staffing and operations last school year in the hybrid format, including addition of full time school nurse at Lace Elementary School, and permanent substitute teachers at each school.
- Stipends for staff to allow for the successful implementation of mitigation measures (socially distanced lunch, arrival and dismissal procedures, etc.) during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years.
- Purchase of additional instructional supplies and licensees for successful hybrid/remote learning.
- Purchased services from 3rd party cleaning company to provide improved frequency of cleaning and disinfecting protocols at all schools.
- Technology purchases of equipment including replacement Chromebooks for students and infrastructure.
- Purchase of services from 3rd party to provided additional bus driver support as needed.
ESSER 3 were used/will be used for:
- Continued cleaning services
- Purchased services of 3rd party HVAC monitoring and air quality maintenance.
- Resources to address learning loss
- Expanded summer school to assist with learning loss (2022 and 2023)
- Expanded after school programming (2022 and 2023)
- Additional assistant principal to be hired
- Purchased service for students to attend online school who were unable to attend in-person schooling for health reasons
- Technology purchases of equipment including network and infrastructure improvements.
- Capital improvements of student learning spaces
It is District 61's intention to complete the ESSER grants by the end of fiscal year 2024 in order to make the greatest impact on students.
How are ESSER funds managed?
ESSER money was distributed using the same allocation as Title 1 funds, which is largely based on a school district's low income data. The State of Illinois has a very specific grant submission system that school districts must follow. The management of these funds is really no different than the structure used for other federal funds that flow to the District from the federal government. For federal grants, the State is given the limits of the use of federal funds, which are described in the grant application. Federal grants are always paid in a reimbursement format to local governments. Once the District has spent the funds on the approved expenditure, it seeks reimbursement from the State. The State Board of Education staff review and approve the grant based on the federal guidelines they have been given to follow. This is the standard process for any federal funds allocated to school districts.
The District is annually audited by independent auditors who sample and test our systems in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Those audits and financial reports are filed with the State and posted on the District’s website.
The District's financials are posted on the Business Office Department Page of the District website. The Business Office Department Page also contains audited financials, the annual statement of affairs back, and budgets. In addition the district has discussed these expenditures at the monthly BOE meetings.