The ESSER II grant program was authorized in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA), signed into law in December 2020. The Northside Independent School District (ISD) received an allocation of $77,010,787 and submitted the grant application to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on October 14, 2021. The grant term is from March 13, 2020 (pre-award) - September 30, 2023.
This is a federal grant however, the funding source does not follow the supplement not supplant rule. In an FAQ, released by TEA (page 42, question 4) regarding attendance and enrollment, it was explained that, “TEA will reduce total Refined ADA in an amount necessary to ensure each LEA receives total state and ESSER II funding equal to the amount that would have been available through the FSP while receiving the benefit of the hold harmless provided by the State.” This means that districts should anticipate ESSER II funds to offset another year of reduced local funding. As such, Northside ISD reserved $19,902,465 for hold harmless that will be used for payroll for campuses.
As the intent and purpose of the ESSER II Grant Program is to “prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.” This project is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing schools to provide a safer environment for students and staff. The 2020-2022 CRRSA ESSER II Program Guidelines lists ventilation system replacement as an allowable activity: “Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities” (page 12).
The remaining $57,108,322 will be used to replace outdated air conditioner ventilation systems at 11 schools (Galm ES, Holmgreen Center, Knowlton ES, Leon Springs ES, McDermott ES, Northwest Crossing ES, Reddix Center, Scobee ES, Stinson MS, Timberwilde ES, and Thornton ES) with Variable Air Volume (VAV) systems, covering over 525,000 square feet. These improvements will allow an increased use of outside air and improved filtration (to a minimum of MERV 13), as recommended by the CDC. This improved ventilation and filtration will positively impact the health of students and staff, including providing added protection from COVID-19 and other airborne pathogens. The total estimated cost of this project at all 11 schools will be $57,108,322.