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School officials detail ESSER grant expenditures

October 13, 2021
WOLFEBORO — State Rep. Glenn Cordelli of Tuftonboro introduced himself during public input at the start of the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board meeting held at the Kingswood Arts Center on Oct. 4 to share questions about how the district intends to apply ESSER funds (Cares Act funds intended for Covid-19 related remediation). The district is able to apply for projects totalling $10.5 million. Grant money that is unspent returns to the federal government.

Cordelli wondered what input the district is receiving from the public and how the district intends to address student learning. He also encouraged the district to make that information available. "Trust requires transparency," he declared.

In fact, discussion of ESSER III funds (the third application phase) was on the agenda of the Building and Maintenance Committee's Oct. 4 meeting. Agendas and meetings, which are open to the public, are posted in advance and minutes are posted within five days of the meetings.

Chairman Tim Eldridge shared the committee's discussions that evening at the general meeting. Under consideration are updating the HVAC systems of the elementary schools – the Kingswood Complex buildings are already up to date, and dark fiber connections, which have a high capacity and enable excellent signal strength. Eldridge said that the connectivity infrastructure would save the district money in the long run. The discussions are part of the process in determining how money will be spent and must take place in advance of the filing deadline. The public is invited to offer feedback.

Also, the ESSER I and ESSER II grants, in the interest of transparency, are described in voluminous and specific detail on the GWRSD.org website, which provides links to that information.

To recap, the June 5 School Board meeting minutes contain the review of how grant funds were to be used, presented by Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert. ESSER I funds related to personal protective equipment and items purchased to enact the recommended Covid-19 protocols. ESSER II covered: tangible items that would have long term benefits (i.e., sidewalks, boiler at middle school, and school busses); supplies such as reading materials, STEM supplies, music supplies, i.e., instruments, and technology. (Those funds paid for the summer programs offered to students as a means to catch up and reconnect.); and curriculum projects, including a math project in every school for two years, a two-year project in the high school, and the hiring of three literacy project managers and a nurse.

At this time, the ESSER III grant process is underway with Business Manager Kathy O'Blenes anticipating the approaching deadline. Anyone who runs into difficulties navigating the Web site, GWRSD.org, may seek assistance by calling 569-1658.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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