Knox County parents weigh in on how they think ESSER funding should be spent

Education

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Schools is set to receive millions of dollars in federal funding, and they’re asking for feedback from parents and teachers on how it should be spent.

All Tennessee public schools will soon receive the third and final round of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds. It’s funding from the government that will be allocated to school districts across the state to help fix a range of issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knox County is set to receive $114,112,117. The funds must be spent before 2024. Knox County Schools recently sent out a survey to parents and students asking how they would prefer the money to be spent.

KCS parent, Seth Barber says he thinks the majority of the money should go toward infrastructure.

“I think facilities makes the most sense for a quick injection of cash. Building new schools, fixing schools expanding schools. I think that makes more sense to me than putting in programs that we can only fund for a year, maybe two years that aren’t going to get us anywhere long term,” Barber said.

Erin Keck also has a child in KCS. She says she would like to see a portion of the money go toward more training for SROs and SSOs, as well as more community transparency into their roles.

“I would really like to see some additional training and community input regarding the SROs and SSOs in our schools. I think there’s been a lot of miscommunication that has made this topic weirdly political that I think we could all benefit from more transparency in that aspect,” Keck said.

There are some stipulations. At least 20 percent of funds must go toward programs evidence-based intervention programs that address learning loss. The rest of the money can be used toward a range of activities that address the needs caused by the pandemic.

Currently, KCS is in the process of gathering input from the community. One of the methods is the survey, but they will also be holding community meetings on Thursday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 29.

The meetings will be held at the Sarah Simpson Professional Development Technology Center, 801 Tipton Ave. Both meetings will start at 5:30 p.m.

The district has until August 27 to submit their spending plan. The Board of Education must approve it.

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