At Milton School Board meeting last week, the board discussed how the Elementary-Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is affecting the upcoming FY23 budget, including how this money has helped the district achieve an increase of zero percent tax.
ESSER funds are one-time funds that schools in Vermont can apply for through the VT Agency of Education. The funds are divided into three separate grants which all have different application processes as well as rules on how the grant is used.
So far, the Milton Town School District has been approved for:
- ESSER I – $276,675
- ESSER II – $1,124,609
- ESSER IDEA – $126,755
- ESSER Homeless children and youth – I: $41,000 II: 28,833.61
The application for the American ESSER Rescue Plan (ARP ESSER), which will be the school’s largest grant at $2,806,4949, is currently underway.
Currently, ESSER is fully funding seven positions at MTSD, which have no impact on the FY23 budget.
Through the ESSER Indirect Cost Rates, the district will receive $165,000 in revenue, helping the district reduce education expenses and enabled a zero percent tax increase for the budget.
An indirect cost rate is like a kickback from the grant that the district can then use as revenue, MTSD superintendent Amy Rex said at the meeting.
Effect of the position funded by the grant on the general fund
Rex also explained the relationship between these new grant-funded positions and the general fund as we look forward to FY24.
Rex said grant-funded positions, when the grant runs out or falls short of what was intended, are not automatically added to the general fund.
Each year, MTSD evaluates staffing, matching it to student needs, Rex said.
When these grant-funded positions are finally reviewed, the district will decide which positions will be prioritized as
“We will need to assess all of these positions and determine if any of the grant-funded positions need to be prioritized and, if so, which ones and/or are there other positions in the general fund that cannot be -be no longer as effective or necessary,” Rex said.
Rex also said no one knows what additional funding streams will be available in the future.
“We know we have these funds, there are one-time funds, but depending on what happens at the national level and at the state level, there may be additional funding streams to continue to meet the needs of students. in accordance with the impacts of COVID-19,” she said. .
Rex also noted that the board evaluates all proposed personnel changes to see if they are in line with the MTSD’s vision.
MTSD Board Chairman Rick Dooley said the zero percent increase is the culmination of all the hard work the district has put in over the past few years and is what everyone hoped for.