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State convenes school task force to oversee distribution of pandemic funds

Department of Education press release

TOPEKA — Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson has created a task force to offer guidance and oversight of school districts’ plans for expenditure of federal funds focused on supporting student learning and student needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Funding Oversight is comprised of 19 people, including superintendents, legislators, teachers, local school board members, business managers and private school personnel.

The task force will give direct oversight to $368 million in ESSER II funds and $26 million in EANS funds.

The amount provided to each district varies across the state.

ESSER II funds have to be spent on pandemic-related expenses by September 2023.

The task force will provide oversight and approval of school district plans for expenditure of the ESSER and EANS funds and will be in place until summer 2023.

The group will first meet on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, to establish protocols and processes. The group will then meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Friday.

Group members and the positions they hold are:

Dr. Mike Argabright, superintendent, Southern Lyon County Unified School District 252; Brad Bergsma, board member, Goodland USD 352; Tracy Callard, gifted teacher, Wichita USD 259; Dr. Nick Compagnone, superintendent, Catholic Diocese of Salina; and Sen. Brenda Dietrich, Kansas Legislature, District 20.

Also, Janet Eaton, superintendent, Catholic Diocese of Wichita; Dr. Frank Harwood, superintendent, De Soto USD 232; Roberta Lewis, social science teacher, Fort Scott USD 234; Lisa Peters, executive director of business, Salina USD 305; Sen. Pat Pettey, Kansas Legislature, District 6; and Jim Porter, chair, Kansas State Board of Education.

Also, Adam Proffitt, director of budget, State of Kansas; Melissa Rooker, executive director, Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund; Jamie Rumford, superintendent, Scott County USD 466; Simeon Russell, executive director of business and operations, Dodge City USD 443; Rep. Adam Thomas, Kansas Legislature, District 26; Dr. Alicia Thompson, superintendent, Wichita USD 259; Janet Waugh, vice chair of the State Board of Education; and Jason Winbolt, school board member, Spring Hill USD 230.