CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District’s interim superintendent released new details Monday about how the district may spend about $163 million in federal funding.
The money comes from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Congress passed three stimulus bills in 2020 and 20201 that provided nearly $190.5 billion to the fund.
The Charleston County School District has $163 million in ESSER III funding it can spend in an effort to help students get caught up from the educational challenges brought on during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charleston County Schools Interim Superintendent Don Kennedy announced some figures to give a picture of where that money will go.
Kennedy said $28 million will go to individual school programs, while $43.5 million will be set aside for non-academic use, including buildings and equipment.
The single largest pool of money, some $76 million, will be used for district-wide programs. Those programs include new and expanded pathways for recruiting and retaining teachers, improving the current curriculum and, of course, wraparound services like $14.3 million for positions like mental health counselors the district desperately needs.
The money is giving the district a chance to address areas where it is falling short, Chief Academic Officer Karolyn Belcher said.
“At this point right now in Charleston County, we are not meeting the need for early childhood, even as we have been expanding it at the Mary Ford Early Learning and Family Engagement Center,” she said. “So we have some additional centers that are going to come online in the next couple of years. So that is one phase of meeting early childhood.”
Just like the search for a new superintendent, which the school board took steps Monday to get underway, several board members have expressed concern about how long it is taking to get this money sorted.
There is no word on any deadline by which the district will settle on programs and groups that will receive this money.
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