LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As more students return to the classroom, school district officials are brainstorming ways to reverse some of the learning loss experienced during the pandemic. Superintendents from five Kentucky school districts pitched how they plan to use their portion of $928 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) funding. 

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky school districts are planning out how they'll spend their portion of $928 million in federal funding

  • The funds are coming from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) program

  • Some districts will use the funds for student transportation, dropout prevention, and programs to combat learning loss endured during the pandemic

  • The new funding can be used for expenses going back to March 13, 2020, and can pay for expenses obligated up to Sept. 30, 2023

Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass said this is the largest infusion of federal funding to K-12 education ever. The department gave districts guidance in February to explain what types of things the money can be used for.

While exact use will vary district to district, Dr. Glass urges districts to focus on rebuilding experiences students missed out on for so long during the pandemic.

"Here in Kentucky, we’ve created a separate fund that the Department of Education manages to encourage districts to use that large infusion of dollars to create authentic, meaningful and engaging learning experiences for students,” Glass said.

Warren County Public Schools aims to use the money to fund student transportation, weekend academic help, adding winter and spring-break terms and dropout prevention initiatives. Pikeville Independent Schools plans to focus on additional intervention and mental health initiatives. District officials there also plan to team up with community partners to provide summer academies.

Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) pitched to offer a Summer Ignite program to help students make up for things they missed last fall. FCPS also pitch using the money to add "partner hubs," which was described as retrofitted buses to help bring students needed materials instead of requiring them to go into the building.

Rockcastle County plans to offer what it calls "CampROCK," which would be summer school two days a week for elementary students and week-long learning labs for high school students.

Rockcastle County Schools Superintendent Carrie Ballinger said they are surveying students to see what they would want out of this summer school camp. She wants to offer fun experiences to get them back into the building.

"When they are with us, we can really start to address those social-emotional needs we all know are so apparent right now," Ballinger said.

The district also plans to continue offering families wireless hotspots in the fall. Fort Thomas Independent Schools did a resiliency poll in November 2020 to asses students' mental health needs. From there, district officials plan to use the poll results and new funds to better target needed emotional support.

The new funding can be used for expenses going back to March 13, 2020, and can pay for expenses obligated up to Sept. 30, 2023.