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Local

Geneva school district qualifies for more than $350K in coronavirus relief funding

Reimbursement grants to aid schools' additional cost due to COVID-19

Jeff Krage – For Shaw Media
District 304 Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler points to the new sign during Saturday's dedication ceremony for the Coultrap Educational Services Center. At right is Paul Coultrap, grandson of Harry Coultrap.
Geneva 9/28/13
Jeff Krage – For Shaw Media District 304 Superintendent Dr. Kent Mutchler points to the new sign during Saturday's dedication ceremony for the Coultrap Educational Services Center. At right is Paul Coultrap, grandson of Harry Coultrap. Geneva 9/28/13

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GENEVA – Geneva District 304 qualifies to receive $350,114 through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to support the district's associated with COVID-19.

Speaking at the May 26 remote school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Dean Romano said the money – with the acronym ESSER – provides emergency relief funding to schools to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus threat.

“In particular, it’s meant to provide equitable services to students and teachers in public schools as required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act,” Romano said.

“Right now, we … have been informed that the district has been allotted $350,114 to support what we have been going through,” Romano said. “We recognize that this is going to work very similar to our (federal) Title I Grants, as far as they way the reimbursements are processed.”

The grant is to cover reimbursements in the time period from March 13, 2020 when the district closed down through Sept. 30, 2021, Romano said.

“We have the application about to be submitted. We have until June to complete that,” Romano said.

About $35,000 or 10% of the ESSER grant is available to non-public schools, which officials identified as St. Peter Catholic School in Geneva and Mansio Montessori of Geneva.

Director of Learning and Teaching Shonette Sims said she completed the non-public school consultation on Tuesday with St. Peter, as Mansio did not attend.

As Mansio only has kindergarten students, Sims said it would not be worth it for them to seek ESSER funding.

“The big overarching area for grant dollars is how to support existing grants, if that is needed,” Sims said. “Where we are fortunate – I guess you could say this year – is that we still have a significant amount of money in a few of our grants because as you can imagine, we have not been able to spend those dollars this year.”

For example, the Title II fund has not been allocated to professional development because professional development stopped occurring when the state’s schools closed due to the coronavirus, Sims said.

The district can seek reimbursement for non-typical provisions because of the pandemic. These include meals, technology upgrades for online learning – including hardware, software and connectivity, Sims said.

If the district has to respond more aggressively because a school was hit harder than others because of the virus, and can allocate additional funds for that purpose, Sims said.

Another area will be additional cleaning and sanitation supplies for when staff and students are able to return to school, Sims said.

“So the next steps … is to finish the grant application,” Sims said. “There is a working call (Wednesday) with our principle consultant at the State Board of Education, so I will be joining that to get specific questions answers with the goal of getting this submitted by the end of this week, so hopefully, we can secure those funds earlier rather than later.”

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