WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to use a package of federal funds to repair roofs on buildings district-wide, in addition to other maintenance issues.
The district will also use part of its $52.76 million in Elementary Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Act (ESSER) funds—which came from the federal government in two separate installments—to hire mental health staff and support students academically.
Part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security act, ESSER was established to help schools recover from extra expenses incurred under the Covid-19 pandemic.
The funding came in three waves, known as ESSER I, II and III.
The funds must be used to address issues such as health and safety preparedness, support for vulnerable populations, purchasing and access to educational technology, mental health services, summer and supplemental learning, addressing learning loss and school facility repairs.
The Trustees Wednesday were discussing the last two installments. ESSER II gave the district $16.07 million, while III brought $36 million. These funds must be spent by the end of 2023 and ’24, respectively, or must be returned.
The district held two town hall meetings on July 14 to gather public input on how to spend the money. From that meeting and a survey that saw roughly 700 responses, the district gathered three priority maintenance issues at every school. But district officials estimate that completing those projects would cost the district more than $93 million, said PVUSD Chief Business Officer Clint Rucker.
The district, therefore, will allocate $20 million for roofing repairs and replacements, $10 million for other projects and $22.76 million for student support, mental health staffing and “academic acceleration.”
Rucker said district officials will now work with the facilities and maintenance department to determine where the work is needed most.
“We will be looking at the sites that have the greatest need in terms of urgency,” he said.
It is important to remember, Rucker said, that the funds are one-time only, meaning it will be gone once it is spent.
“What we’re trying to do with one-time money is always invest it in places where it saves the district going forward,” he said. “The best use of one-time money is things that save you in the long-run and can be done one time.”