HOLLAND, Mich. — West Ottawa Public Schools is making some major upgrades to COVID safety and overall bettering the school environment with federal dollars, right in time for the first day of school Wednesday.
"Our goal in everything was to figure out what things reached students – you know what things had a daily impact on kids," Superintendent Tim Bearden said.
Bearden is excited about the new school year and excited about the additional funding they received over the summer. His district is one of many across the state splitting COVID relief funds to help students.
Michigan received nearly $390 million from the US Department of Education, West Ottawa Public Schools received approximately $9.9 million of that. It's all part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER.
"It's a significant amount of money that we had disbursed to us by the state," Bearden said.
The district will use the money to update the building that houses the West Ottawa Virtual Academy and hire teachers for that program. The district will also bring in 16 interventionists that can help students falling behind. They'll deal with COVID learning loss as well as emotional needs. Money will even help buy PPE, make technology upgrades and hire people to help with cleaning protocols.
"The goal was to impact kids as significantly as possible as quickly as possible," Bearden said.