District gets nearly $1M in relief grant

Sierra Sands officials commend support from elected officials

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

District gets nearly $1M in relief grantSierra Sands Unified School District was recently notified that it will receive a grant for approximately $988,000, which will offset the cost of a $1.6-million sewer renovation project.

The district applied for the grant in 2018, in hopes of defraying the cost of completely renovating the sewer system at Burroughs High School. The funds came from the California Department of General Services’ Office of Public Construction, which is responsible for allocating state school facility construction bonds to financially strapped districts in need of immediate repairs that would otherwise present a threat to health and safety.

“This required a lot of work from our staff and a lot of support from our state officials,” said SSUSD Superintendent Ernie Bell. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of all these folks to provide support to our facilities, which ultimately serve the students in our community.”

Bell noted the importance of building and maintaining relationships between district staff and elected officials. From the Sierra Sands side, he said, the last three assistant superintendents of business and finance — Elaine Janson, Christina Giraldo and now Pam Smith — have all worked diligently with leaders at the federal, state and county level to ensure that Sierra Sands has access to any resources that can benefit our schools and the community they serve.

“We have great support from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, State Sen. Shannon Grove, Assemblyman Vince Fong, Supervisor Mick Gleason, and of course retired Sen. Jean Fuller,” said Bell.

“Making sure our leaders understand the needs of this community has been an ongoing effort, and this most recent grant is an indicator that they lobby hard on our behalf.”

“This is great news for our community, and I am glad that the [State Allocation Board] approved this necessary funding,” said Grove.

Because Sierra Sands serves students in an area dominated by federal work — which does not generate traditional taxes that feed school revenue streams — SSUSD also qualifies for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, which contributes up to $1 million in annual income to support infrastructure and student needs.

“One of the things we are doing is having our students and staff members write letters to the Office of Economic Adjustment to express what this funding means to our students and the positive impact it has on our community,” said Bell.

“There is always the threat of our losing federal impact aid — in fact it’s been canceled on several occasions. But thanks to the support of our congressional leaders, we’ve always been able to have it added back in.”

For the sewer project, the district provided a local contribution, and also garnered additional funding from the Department of Defense. Sierra Sands should begin receiving project funds over the next few months.

Story First Published: 2019-05-03