By Andrew Edwards
Parents won’t have to buy the normal list of school supplies in Elmore and Autauga counties to start the 2021 school year, thanks to strong local leadership and help from the federal government.
Confirmed by Autauga County Superintendent Timothy Tidmore and Elmore County Superintendent Richard Dennis Pre-K-12e elementary students will not have to purchase “school door hardware” for the 2021-2022 school year. This includes paper, pencils, notebooks, binders, etc.
The money was granted through several federal securities funds and ESSER (elementary and secondary school emergency relief) funds, legislation that provided unprecedented levels of support for education.
The legislation was passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Supplies in both counties will vary depending on the school year, will be boxed and given to each student individually. Materials will not include specialized courses, such as art supplies. All materials in both counties were purchased through their central offices.
Tidmore explained that the funds will help families throughout Autauga County.
“There are a lot of parents who have suffered financially due to Covid and we think this will be a great way to help all those struggling families right now,” Tidmore said. “People always bounce back, and we want to do everything in our power to take some of that financial burden off them.”
Dennis explained that the situation in Elmore County is almost identical.
“We want to use these federal funds that have been received to help all of our students and families in Elmore County. Funds will be distributed among all schools equally, based on school size,” Dennis said.
In total, Autauga County received $479,000 for supplies for use in all schools, while Elmore County received $500,000.
“It’s part of a plan we submitted to the state in January, so we’re just glad it’s all finalized now,” Tidmore said.
Tidmore also explained that parents in Autauga County will not be asked to make donations in any form.
In Elmore County, Holtville Elementary Superintendent Chris Holley says support from families has been widespread.
“We recently posted a post on Facebook showing the supplies we were going to donate to the kids, and it got 20,000 views and 200 shares in a very short time. We tell parents to bring a schoolbag with their child on the first day of class, and we’ll take care of the rest,” Holley said.
Federal emergency assistance for public education over the past year has come through three separate pieces of legislation:
- CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, March 2020
- CRRSA (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations) Law, December 2020
- ARP (American Rescue Plan) Act, March 2021
The Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) is the main source of funding for public elementary and secondary education under each statute. As each subsequent law was enacted, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) changed the acronym ESSER to distinguish one fund from the other. Together they are known as ESSER funds. In addition, each subsequent law has extended the period during which the funds can be used.
Nationally, $190 billion in federal emergency assistance is being provided to states through ESSER funds to support public elementary and secondary education, or about $3,700 per student.