ESSER, yes sir

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Money is flowing/trickling into Knox County Schools from the federal government under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER 3.0) Fund. KCS expects some $114 million. These emergency relief funds are provided to support schools in addressing learning loss and improving in-person learning following the Covid-19 pandemic.

After a needs assessment (Knox County Schools ESSER Needs Assessment – Approved.pdf ( and various input sessions, one item is fast-tracked. Expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) projects in various high schools has been approved by the school board and will be on Knox County Commission’s education consent agenda in June.

Initially, Knox County will spend up to $410,000 with MBI Companies Inc. for design of these projects. Bids will be taken based on the designs.

  • Central High: Renovations to school library to provide additional areas for work-based instruction spaces and a school store and a coffee shop.
  • Gibbs High: Renovations to automotive and cosmetology areas to simulate real-world atmospheres.
  • L&N STEM Academy: Renovate the second floor to provide a state-of-the-art computer science and engineering fabrication and collaborative lab.
  • Hardin Valley Academy: Renovations to provide a school store managed by students.
  • Carter High: Renovations to expand the existing school store.
  • Additional projects will be added to the list as they are identified.

Knox County Commission will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, June 27, for a voting session. The workshop is today (06/21) because of Monday’s holiday.

Other items of note include:

  • An almost $3 million, five-year grant with the Tennessee Department of Health ($585,998 per year) “for the provision of public health emergency preparedness services.” I’m not sure what this even means, but I do believe that should we have another public health emergency, the mayor and county commission will limit/restrict/impede the health department from acting.
  • Commissioner Justin Biggs wants to increase fines for selling beer to minors. He’s got a resolution on first reading in June. Currently, a first offense gets a $500 fine; a second offense gets $1,000; and a third offense draws a $1,500 fine. Biggs wants to make those fines $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000. Also, Biggs wants a mandatory revocation of the beer license on fourth offense.
  • Commissioner Larsen Jay and Law Director David Buuck have what will become dueling resolutions on changing the Sheriff’s Office merit council. These items will take up half of the total time and fill the room with armed men and women wearing blue.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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