Lake Travis ISD will use more than $3 million in federal funding to aid in the district’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Trustees met June 16 to discuss the application process for obtaining funding provided through the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Program, or ESSER III, which was passed in March.

To date, the U.S. The Department of Education has released two-thirds of the federal dollars to the Texas Education Agency, according to Pam Sanchez, LTISD Chief Financial Officer.

Sanchez said the district received roughly $2 million in relief about this time last year through the initial round of ESSER funding. She said the second round of funding through ESSER II will primarily be used by the TEA to fund the hold harmless provision enacted during the pandemic, which ensured districts received state funding based on projected enrollment numbers despite any declines experienced.

This summer, LTISD will submit an application to the TEA for the remaining round of funding of roughly $1 million. The application will include two formal plans for the distribution of funds and the safe reopening of in-person instruction.

Districts are required to spend a minimum of 20% to address student learning loss and academic impact of the pandemic. The remaining percentage can be used for professional development, staffing, technology, facility upgrades such as ventilation systems or mental health support, according to district information.

“We can’t spend 100% to construct or update our facilities or technology,” Sanchez told the board. “It needs to be used to address the learning loss that our students have sustained through the pandemic.”

To develop this plan, LTISD enacted an ESSER planning committee made up of district leaders. Those leaders met in May and June to determine the district’s greatest needs. Fortunately, Sanchez said technology and facility upgrades have already been covered by the district, meaning the funding will likely be used for the academic and social needs of students.

This may be achieved through after-school programs, mental health support positions or other measures.

Additionally, LTISD will seek community input on how the funding should be distributed through an online survey, which went live following the June 16 meeting, according to Sanchez. The results of the survey, along with a spending plan, will be presented during the July 21 board meeting.

LTISD will then submit the plan, with any needed revisions to the TEA by the July 27 deadline. Sanchez said the district could receive the funding by late summer.