Utilizing funding to enhance teaching and learning

In an FETC session presented by Zoom Video Communications, attendees got a crash course in the latest COVID-19 relief funding and heard from a superintendent about his district’s initiatives.
By: | January 28, 2021
Getty Images, guvendemirGetty Images, guvendemir

With Zoom’s education clients in need of guidance on federal pandemic funding, the company has a dedicated Grants Assistance Team to provide support. Dana Satterwhite, a grants consultant, shared information and insights about what’s available to school districts in an FETC session. Sharing his own district’s experiences in the session was Henry Pettiegrew, CEO and superintendent of East Cleveland City Schools in Ohio.

Satterwhite detailed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the new COVID-relief stimulus with $82 million earmarked for education funding. Elementary and secondary schools will receive $54.3 billion, roughly four times the amount seen with the CARES Act. As with that relief, states will allocate funds to local education agencies. Non-public schools will receive direct funding allocations, which was not the case with the CARES Act.

The session also provided an explanation of ESSER II Funding. ESSER I funds should be fully expended before districts can begin spending ESSER II dollars, Satterwhite said, adding that many districts had been hanging on to initial funds due to the uncertainty of whether additional funding would be provided. Districts seeking ESSER II funds must provide detailed accounting that includes how funds are being used to address learning loss among students disproportionately affected by the pandemic and school closures.

The session included a slide explaining eligible uses for funds—with priorities given to coordinating preparedness and response efforts, addressing the unique needs of disadvantaged populations, purchasing ed tech and providing mental health services and support.

GEER – Governor’s Education Relief funds, including allowable uses, were also explained.

Finally, Satterwhite shared an alternative program, the RUS-DLT Competitive Grant Program from the USDA Rural Utilities Service, which provides funding for interactive real-time distance learning and/or telehealth projects.

Then Pettiegrew explained his district’s efforts through a presentation and then a live chat with attendees. Heading up the third most impoverished district in the United State, Pettiegrew shared how they provided internet and devices as well as how they incorporated interactive video technology into learning. Teachers responsible for students both in front of them and at home can now walk back and forth, thanks to camera tracking and auto framing. The district is also doing telehealth for students.

Besides using zoom for teaching and health care, East Cleveland is using Zoom for digital signage. “We can post critical information to our community, at mass, using these digital platforms,” Pettiegrew said.