Clear Creek ISD to use federal ESSER funds to meet student tutoring, counseling needs

Clear Creek ISD presented plans for more than $40 million worth of anticipated federal grant funds at a recent board workshop. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Clear Creek ISD presented plans for more than $40 million worth of anticipated federal grant funds at a recent board workshop. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Clear Creek ISD presented plans for more than $40 million worth of anticipated federal grant funds at a recent board workshop. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Clear Creek ISD plans to use $36.5 million in federal relief funds to address pandemic-related tutoring needs, add counselors or social workers and cover certain emergency response expenditures, district leaders said at a July 12 board of trustees workshop.

The money has been made available via the third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, distributed by the U.S. Department of Education to address costs incurred during the pandemic. The Texas Education Agency used the first two rounds—distributed in March and December of last year— to replace state aid from fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Districts across the state were required to submit detailed spending plans to the TEA by July 27. The state mandated that 20% of the funds be allocated to learning loss solutions, CCISD officials said at the workshop. The rest of the money can be spent on other needs.

Trustee Michelle Davis asked during the workshop how district leaders would prioritize mitigating learning loss in fiscal year 2021-22. Robert Bayard, deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction, confirmed this was a primary focus based on how ESSER funds were allocated.

“The amount that we have right now towards addressing student needs, we've allocated 50% of that just for this year alone,” he said. “The push was definitely this year.”

CCISD was eligible for $3.5 million during the first round of ESSER funding and $16.2 million during the second round, according to Alice Benzaia, director of business services and financial planning. The district expects to receive an additional $6 million-$10 million by this fall from the ESSER II funds, per Benzaia and district documents shown at the workshop.

ESSER II funds are to be spent on expenses incurred between mid-March 2020 and September 2023. ESSER III funds can be spent until a year later in September 2024. The one-time funds can therefore be used for costs incurred before funds were given, Benzaia said.

Plans were presented for about $42.5 million worth of ESSER spending, $21 million of which would be on professional and contracted services. Another $7.25 million would go to payroll expenditures, and $8 million would be spent on supplies and materials; the remaining $6.5 million would be allocated to indirect costs and other operating expenditures.

More than $2.1 million of the funds will be spent on interventionists in FY 2021-22. Interventionists can include retired teachers, teachers performing extra duties or paraprofessionals who aspire to become teachers. An additional four counselor or social worker positions will also be funded through ESSER for FY 2021-22, per district documents.

Other costs to be absorbed by ESSER funds in FY 2021-22 include new instructional coach positions, clinic aids, personal protective equipment and laptops. Funds in fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24 will be concentrated solely on costs associated with meeting student instructional needs.

About 3,000 community members took a community survey, roughly 95% of which were district parents or teachers. Respondents ranked costs associated with staff retention as a top priority and cleaning supplies as the least important. Other highly-ranked expenditures—on a scale of one to three, three being the most important—included technology and mental health health support.

Brooklynn Cooper contributed to this report.

By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.



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