Families in the Greenville Public School District who do not have the technology needed to participate in home learning will have access to those items as a result of a state grant to local school systems. The Greenville Public School District has recently been allocated $3,231,974 from the State of Mississippi’s Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the items purchased with the ESSER funds are received by the school district, a method of distribution will be determined. Those items are not in-hand as of yet. The amount would equate to $761.54 per student based on the most recent reporting of a 4,717-student population. The amount is the second largest per student amount in the state for larger school districts. The Clarksdale Municipal School District was allocated the most per student at $1,233.34. Allocations for Jackson Public School District was $12,261,444 and was the most in the state. The largest school district in the state, DeSoto County Schools, has an allocation of $3,986,618 for its 34,752 students or $114.72 per student. Hollandale School District was allotted $902.51 per student for its 570 students. According to Patrice Guilfoyle with the Mississippi Department of Education, the money is not a direct grant and school systems are paid on a reimbursement basis. The money is also not meant to stem budget shortfalls based on losses in tax revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is supposed to be used to purchase items or begin programs necessary to continue education of students either in person or in distance learning during the pandemic. According to GPSD Superintendent Debra Dace, plans are in place and in the works for how best to use the funds. “Our Local Education Agency conducted a number of surveys (MDE-initiated and GPSD-initiated) to determine the amount of technology and Internet access students had in their homes,” Dace said via email. “In addition, individual and group meetings were held with principals (public school & non-public school), district-level directors, district-level supervisors, and the superintendent. The results from the comprehensive needs assessment were reviewed as well. Data from all of these resources were reviewed in an effort to determine the most important educational needs resulting from COVID-19.” One of the most pressing needs in Washington County, as GPSD has tilted to online-learning only in the first half of the school year, is Internet access. “Our LEA will purchase technological devices needed to fully implement the one-to-one initiative to ensure that all students and instructional staff have a technological device that can access the internet,” Dace said. “In addition, hot spots or similar devices along with data plans will be purchased and will be provided to students who do not have wireless internet access in the home.” The money will also be used to purchase software and learning management systems. Outside of technology, the school system plans to purchase cleaning supplies, PPE, disinfectants, wipes and other items to ensure the safety of students, staff and all stakeholders. While the funds are emanating from a public source, GPSD is required to share funding with private schools based on the low-income students they might serve. While the funds allocated to GPSD per student may seem outsized based on other schools (See graph), the funding in the ESSER program is based on the number of Title I dollars in the system’s budget. Those dollars are determined by the number of low-income students in the school system. “Funds were allocated to school districts based on the fiscal year 2020 Title I formula,” Dace said. “GPSD received approximately 75% of our fiscal year 2020 Title I Allocation. Also, funding is based on the Average Daily Attendance of students for the MAEP Funding.” Thought the funding is not to offset revenue losses bases on tax revenue, GPSD saw a 7% decrease in funds in July compared to June 2020 from the county and the same amount of decrease from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Other districts in the county are beneficiaries of the program as well. Those include: n Leland School District with $496,337 for 785 students or $632.27 per student; n Western Line School District with $726,222 for 1928 students or $376.67 per student; and n Hollandale School District with $514,436 for 570 students or $902.51 per student. In a poll conducted by the newspaper at ddtonline.com, 63% of respondents said they would be prepared for distance learning with a computer and high-speed internet access. Some respondents, 24%, said the Internet access is fine, but the computers would have to upgraded. A total of 15% of respondents said they would not be able to participate in distance learning as either their smart devices were the only access to the Internet or they had no Internet access at home at all.