OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Thursday the U.S. Department of Education announced in a press release the approval of Nebraska’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and the expected distribution of the remaining ARP ESSER funds to the state.
Nebraska will receive $546 million total in ARP ESSER funds and Thursday's approval of the state's plan will result in the release of the final $182 million. OPS representatives say the school system will be reimbursed for the spending outlined in its plan.
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the department show how states are using federal pandemic resources to support safe, in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students.
The department provided the following examples of how the funds are being used:
"Nebraska’s plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic," the Department of Education said in the release.
“Nebraska schools have taken a lead in pandemic response from the very beginning, working tirelessly to find ways to keep students in the classroom,” added Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt in the press release. “Our schools will continue to lead by using the latest funds to support students by addressing unfinished learning and boosting learning acceleration. We have the unique opportunity to provide schools and students the supports and community partnerships they need to be their very best.”
As students and states return to school, the Department released the Return To School Roadmap, which it says provides key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outlines how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning. ARP funds can be used to support the roadmap’s efforts.
Omaha Public Schools approved their plans for the funds at a board meeting on September 9. The district will be reimbursed for $194,224,223, about 35% of the total funding coming to Nebraska schools.
The district is putting over $150 million toward academic recovery and acceleration and $116 million toward infrastructure and facilities.
Around $8.5 million will go toward student and staff well-being, and $4 million toward family and community engagement.