Elgin Public Schools will receive an additional $291,082.56 in federal aid this spring, while Sterling Public Schools will get an extra $54,836.27, the Oklahoma State Department of Education said recently.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has earmarked $49 million in federal aid to 88 school districts across the state that received only limited assistance from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Relief II fund, which was designed to help districts cope with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is part of the ESSER II dollars that were allocated for Oklahoma.

“These recipients had received the least amount of federal aid but, like all public school districts throughout our state, are struggling with financial burdens exacerbated by the pandemic,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said in a news release. “These additional foundational dollars will help strengthen their ability to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19.”

Hofmeister said some districts had indicated that they would have been forced to cut essential staff – such as teachers and counselors – without the federal aid.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, ESSER II dollars were distributed based on districts’ Title I funds from fiscal year 2020, according to the news release. Title I money provides assistance to districts where children from low-income families make up at least 40% of enrollment, which allows those districts to offer programs that serve all students in order to boost the achievement of the lowest-performing students.

As a result of the distribution plan, some school districts with fewer poverty-stricken students received only limited relief from the $665 million fund that was available to Oklahoma under ESSER II, according to the news release.

Department of Education officials determined that any school district that received less than $550 per student in ESSER II dollars would receive part of the $49 million, according to the news release. Districts may use the money for these purposes:

• Preparing, preventing and responding to COVID-19.

• Reducing learning loss.

• Restoring a high-quality environment for learning.