School Funding

Watch Now: Hawkins Schools Describe Proposed Uses For $ 16.4 Million ESSER 3.0 Funding | New


ROGERSVILLE – The Hawkins County school system will be accepting suggestions via an online survey through July 1 on how to spend $ 16.4 million in federal stimulus funding.

A request to the Tennessee Department of Education outlining the school system’s plan for funding is due Aug.15. The online survey can be taken from the Hawkins County Schools website at

Last week, principal of schools Matt Hixson and other school administrators held a public hearing on Zoom in which Hixson explained how the district is proposing to use the funds.

CTE Supervisor Brandon Williams, left, discusses some of the ideas for using ESSER funding to improve CTE programs at a June 10 ZOOM meeting on proposed ESSER spending also involving Schools Principal Matt Hixson, center and high school / college supervisor Thomas Floyd.

Hixson said 20% of the funds should be spent on closing the gap in education.

This refers to all the educational gaps that arose when schools were closed due to COVID-19, as well as gaps resulting from virtual instruction, back and forth from virtual to the classroom, and changes in school. instruction that may have impeded access to content. .

Hawkins County is meeting its education gap reduction requirements by implementing summer school programs for three consecutive summers starting this summer.

Hixson said seven summer school sites are spread across the county with more than 600 students enrolled. Students attend six-hour days Monday through Thursday, costing around $ 2 million for the month of operation.

This year’s summer school ends on Thursday.

What is ESSER 3.0?

ESSER stands for Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Tennessee public schools will receive more than $ 4.5 billion in federal relief funds that can be used until fall 2023 to support K-12 schools and students across the state.

This is the third ESSER funding round. In ESSER 1.0, Hawkins County received $ 1.7 million which was primarily spent on summer school costs and the purchase of instructional technology. The district also completed educational support between ESSER 1.0 and 2.0 with on-site mathematics interventionists.

Regarding ESSER 2.0, Hawkins County received $ 7.3 million, primarily for the Cherokee and Volunteer High School HVAC projects.

Other uses of ESSER 2.0 funds included technology purchases, summer schools for the following year, educational interventions, security entries and system-wide upgrades, system upgrades ionization and air filtering, exhaust hoods in high school kitchens, support from special education staff including a speech therapist and a technology and curriculum inventory system at the scale of the system.

What are the proposed uses for ESSER 3.0?

Hixson has a long list of potential uses for the $ 16.4 million, but at the top of his list in last week’s public hearing were math interventionists.

“One of the areas that our data shows is lagging behind due to the COVID shutdown is the math area, so we’re looking at additional positions there,” Hixson said. “We are looking for two more math teachers for our high schools. One of the most important areas is that when we were forced to close last March and came back with a late opening this fall, students did not have access to the math classes that are requested of them prior to the Graduation.

The additional high school staff will allow them to “get more students through,” Hixson said, especially in algebra and algebra 2 classes.

They are also looking to hire two graduation coaches, who would target at-risk high school students and make sure they stay on track to graduation.

Other positions Hixson hopes to fill with these funds include behavioral interventionist, two technology integration positions to help classroom teachers, and specialized contract services such as speech and mental and emotional support.

Hixson hopes to use ESSER funding for some facility upgrades such as installing air conditioning in 10 school gymnasiums across the county where needed; water bottle filling stations; improvements to the surface of playgrounds; a cold room for CVES; and security additions at the entrance to the school.

“The biggest blessing of this ESSER money is that if you take away the top 20% that needs to be spent on educational support and gap reduction, the rules allow us to identify significant spending in the area of ​​infrastructure. and maintenance, ”Hixson said.

They are also planning malware and antivirus upgrades due to recent attacks on the school system. Hixson told the BOE earlier this month that the school system’s payroll department was hacked and a $ 3,000 paycheck was deposited into a hacker’s account.

Earlier this year, the school system was the victim of an email malware attack that shut down its computers for a few days.

“We have tools in place already, but we would like to go into all areas to make sure we have consistent upgrades with the attacks that lie ahead,” Hixson said.

They also provide for the expansion of CTE (vocational technical training) programs such as on-the-job training for students. Hixson said there are also potential collaborative efforts between the school system, Hawkins County EMS and the county government regarding school safety and communication.

“I want to add that none of the ESSER money can be used for sports programming or administrator salaries,” Hixson said. “All projects (paid for with ESSER funds) fall off the deferred maintenance list and ultimately save taxpayers the burden of some of these expensive projects. We try to go as far as possible with these one-time funds. Everything must be approved and documented via TDOE from start to finish.

Video from last week’s ESSER 3.0 public hearing is available in the online version of this article at

Rogersville, Tennessee: June 10, 2021


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