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H-F High accesses more than $1.8 million in federal pandemic grants

Homewood-Flossmoor High School is receiving more than $1.8 million in federal aid to help meet expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

H-F Business Manager Lawrence Cook told the District 233 school board May 18 that the high school was approved as a Title I targeted school. That designation gave H-F access to Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) grants approved under the CARES Act passed in March 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March 2021.

This is the first time H-F has a Title I designation. Cook said, “We did it so we could have access to a larger pot of money.”

Cook told the board’s Finance Committee that the district first received $244,000 in ESSER grants. The district has a short window to use the funds. 

Cook said 57% is being used on summer programs for students who need credit recovery at the end of this academic year, or for those who struggled with remote learning this past school year and could benefit from extended learning through the Summer Bridge Program at the high school. H-F will also use funding to cover busing costs to transport students to school.

He said 17% of the grants will be used for professional development, consultants and substitute teachers, and a small amount will be used for parental assistance programs, miscellaneous Advanced Placement exams, and other pandemic related expenses accrued since March 2020.

H-F’s third ESSER grant for $1.6 million will cover expenses through the end of the 2022-23 school year, Cook said.

Title I is a federal program providing financial assistance to schools for students from low-income families. The dollars are meant to help schools ensure that students meet academic standards. 

Schools use the number of students on free or reduced lunch to determine Title I funding. Because H-F has between 19% and 22% on free or reduced lunch, it is being designated a targeted school, Cook said. If the number was 40% or more, the district would automatically be classified as Title I.

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