Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson met with the public Monday night at the Crookston High School Auditorium to host an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief meeting (ESSER III) to discuss what to do with the money that came from federal funds after the school applied for it during COVID-19 this past school year.

Olson was hoping for strong interaction and feedback from the public. “I thought the people that showed up had some really good things to say,” said Olson. “They’ve already tipped me in a couple of directions which is good because we want the best ideas to surface.”
The amount of money from the allocation is broken up into two parts – Restricted Funds and General Funds.

The restricted funds which are just over 600 thousand dollars can only be used in certain ways. “The restricted funds are primarily focused on learning loss, student recovery, and mental health services” said Olson. While Olson was taking opinions on how to use the money, some of the money will be going towards the school’s Title 1 Support.  “Title 1 may be some of the best money the district spends,” said Olson. “The services go to students who are struggling generally in reading or math, and in recent years our resources have been stretched thin. We would love to double that department”

Some other potential options moving forward include offering after-school programs with a focus on reading and math similar to Title 1 but with variations, and an after-school tutoring program to assist students who are falling behind.

The general funds which are just over $2.5 million can be used for anything that benefits the school as long as it’s COVID-19 related. One of the only options brought up so far for the use of the general funds is to reconfigure the high school and designate a middle school. Olson would love to see this happen eventually but made sure to let everyone in attendance know, it would be a lengthy process. “I want to be clear this is Jeremy dreaming, this is a vision I have but by no means is this the direction that we’re going,” said Olson. “It is my vision to one day have a true middle school concept and all the major components that come with it. This isn’t Jeremy’s district, this is the school district so right now we’re working on getting some feedback for if that would be a good direction to go.”

Other options the public gave to use the money included counseling/career advising, and free meals for kids whose’ families need help. Another option that was given was the use of transportation to get kids to after-school programs. The board is unsure if it’ll pour all the money into one project or several projects to make the best use of it. Regardless of how the money gets spent, Olson was clear it’ll be used for the benefit of the students.