If you are looking for a horror movie title this summer, it would be “COVID-19 The Second Summer: The Devourer of Vacations”. It’s not because of looming clouds of variant infections; it’s because of that other COVID-19-related Hallmark movie, “ESSER III, Jumping Through Hoops in Hope of Love”. When we look at the two different titles, they are really describing the same thing: COVID-19 has put us through the ringer on meeting protocol, trying to meet elevated expectations to keep school moving and most importantly, jumping through hoops to try and meet the necessary requirements for relief money.
My wife enjoys a good Hallmark movie even though it has the predictable story line of two strangers (or sometimes even long-time friends) thrust into a situation where they have to save Christmas, Valentine’s Day, the local cookie contest or even a rehabilitative horse adoption ranch. ESSER III has a remarkably similar formula starting with elation at receiving the money, wondering when the money will be allocated, receiving the allocation, figuring out what spending is allowable and finally the dreaded steps of what we have to go through to get the money. The processes are already in motion, and it is central that you are following the processes exactly to ensure you don’t have any hiccups in the flow of this revenue.
Most LEAS will follow these steps and do an exceptionally good job. Where the horror movie portion of this article comes into play is in the sequel to “COVID-19 The Second Summer: The Devourer of Vacations"--“Inventory”, which will place most of us into a horrified stupor and have us running for the exits of our local theatre. If an LEA fails to document the appropriate business procedures in purchasing items followed with proper inventories of all the delivered ESSER-related purchases, there will be problems. Let’s be honest here--the federal program audits from this much money will be exhaustive, and you will be expected to account for every pencil, mounted TV, computer, iPad, stick of furniture or HVAC unit purchased. The old excuse of “Oops, I lost it again” will not fly here; get a bar code on that stuff, and make sure you have the appropriate software licenses for any software you purchase or lease. Don’t count on gentle treatment. Have your inventories updated with the location and use every year you use these items.
ESSER I, II and III give us an unusual opportunity to rebuild or to build more modern education facilities for our students. It’s truly a wonderful opportunity. But don’t make this a difficult process by not following the appropriate steps and business procedures. Our inventory systems need to move out of the 19th century and into the 21st. Our personal favorite inventory system around the office is Asset Panda--just because the name is cool. We don’t know how well it works; it just sounds good. If you have a system you would like to recommend to us, please contact me, Eric Doss or Jason Midkiff.
When I talk to school leaders about how powerful a tool social media can be for engaging parents and their communities at large, common responses I hear are that they don’t want to open themselves up for even more criticism and that social media is more trouble than it’s worth.
When we released the June finance report last week, we included a positive set of numbers and facts in it. We see continued recovery in the revenue streams for education, and it does look like we may actually get out of this year without a revenue inconvenience.
A collection of Oklahoma education-related news of the week.