Grand Forks' federal ESSER funds debated as June 22 referendum vote approaches

It’s that last bit that’s become a sticking point in Grand Forks.

Grand Forks is less than two weeks from a June 22 referendum, when the public will decide two major questions. One will increase local taxes to help pay for deferred maintenance at numerous school buildings, giving officials a line of revenue they say is desperately needed to keep pace with repairs.

Another question seeks to green-light the sale of $86 million in revenue bonds, which will help build a new K-8 school, a new district central kitchen and back a list of other improvement projects throughout Grand Forks Public Schools. This separate question in the referendum proposes a second hike in property taxes to fund the bonds’ repayment.

And as Grand Forks heads to the polls, that’s raised questions about the local school district’s corner of federal assistance. Grand Forks looks set to win access to $28.8 million in federal aid, coming under the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” program — or “ESSER” for short.

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That funding is limited to a finite list

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