ELKO – Elko County School District has spent $7.7 million of its $10.1 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds, with $2.4 million left to spend, according to the Nevada Department of Education.
The department has launched a website called NevadaESSER.org that allows the public to look at how all 17 school districts in the state are spending the federal grant dollars. The state received more than $1.5 billion in the relief funds.
“It is our desire at the Nevada Department of Education to provide fiscal transparency and accountability so Nevadans can see that our districts and charter schools are being responsible stewards of the public’s investment in education,” said Jhone Ebert, the state superintendent of instruction.
The Elko district can be found on the website, breaking down how the ESSER grant money has been spent, such as spending nearly $1.05 million on retention and incentives for staff during the pandemic and transition back to a normal routine. Each employee received $1,000, with the general fund picking up any remaining balance.
People are also reading…
ECSD also spent a little more than $1 million on COVID-related insurance expenses, vaccines and testing, and $694,057 for four 84-passenger school buses because the district had to add additional routes in Elko and Spring Creek to deal with reduced capacities on the buses.
The breakdown additionally states that an amount not to exceed $550,000 would be used for bonuses to recruit and retain teachers because of a teacher shortage. The school district wrote that due to COVID and the uneasiness of staff to return to the schools, the bonus was needed.
Another grant expense not to exceed $505,560 was for 1,500 Chromebooks for students, and $488,000 was to fill in lost revenue from the district’s lunch service during the shutdown for the pandemic. The district also budgeted $400,000 for the Elevate K12 program to provide live-streaming instructions for certain classes due to the teacher shortage.
ESCD also spent $375,000 for the online tutoring program called Paper for students in the district and budgeted 47 stipends totaling $258,500 for elementary school staff for summer school, and $240,000 for Wi-Fi hot spots through T-Mobile for students without internet access during the pandemic.
The list on the website includes more expenditures for Elko for specific positions related to COVID, including a virtual academy administrator and other job slots, and other smaller expenses.
The state department received rounds of ESSER funding from March 2020 through March 2021, to support response, recovery and renewal from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in each round 90% of funds were distributed to school districts and the charter authority using a federal formula.
The remaining 10% was reserved for statewide activities.
The State Public Charter School Authority received $82.6 million in grant money, according to the website.
“The goal of this new tool is to increase transparency and accountability into education spending in Nevada,” said the new Nevada governor, Joe Lombardo. “Nevadans deserve to see how federal relief dollars are being spent within our state’s education system.”
Felicia Ortiz, president of the Nevada Board of Education, said in the announcement that she encouraged “community members to go over the data and give our districts your feedback or submit questions on the website.”