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District seeks stakeholder input on priorities for COVID-19 relief funds

Omaha Public Schools is working with students, staff and our community to determine how to best utilize federal relief funding connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds provide support to schools and are intended to minimize the disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and support the academic, social and emotional well-being of students.

In March 2020, the ESSER I Fund provided Omaha Public Schools with $23.2 million. This fund was utilized in May 2020 when the Board of Education approved the purchase of 54,400 internet-enabled iPads to prepare for the 2020-21 school year and support blended learning beyond that time. This fund also supported our health and safety efforts, allowing Omaha Public Schools to be among the first large, urban school districts to responsibly return to in-person learning.

The ESSER II Fund provided Omaha Public Schools with $86.4 million, and this summer the ESSER III Fund has allocated an additional $194.1 million. These funds have not yet been utilized. Collaborating with our students, staff, families and our community is a priority for our district as we move forward together in planning for the use of ESSER II and III funds. Our district has an important responsibility to use these funds wisely so they can make a lasting, positive impact for our students.

The Omaha Public Schools ESSER II and III plans will be built on four key pillars:

· Academic recovery and acceleration supports
· Well-being of students and staff
· Infrastructure for the future
· Family and community engagement

Public engagement for the ESSER II and III Funds will begin with a survey to Omaha Public Schools students, all staff and all families. The email will also contain information about in-person engagement sessions which will be held at schools across our district. Virtual engagement sessions will be held for those who are most comfortable with that opportunity.

District staff provided additional details on the ESSER I, II and III funds during a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, June 21. Click here to watch the Board presentation or view the presentation slideshow here.

Early Childhood Planning Region Team 19 Meeting

Omaha Public Schools will host the Early Childhood Planning Region Team 19 Meeting. This meeting will include review and discussion of services offered to children from birth to five who have special needs and their families.  We will also discuss needs and recommendations for the 2021-2022 grant year.  The meeting is open to school district representatives, service providers, parents, non-public agencies serving children below age five and other interested persons. The agenda may be obtained by emailing Connie.Coltrane@ops.org.


Date: April 16, 2021

Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Meeting will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams; an invite to participate via video or phone will be sent if you reach out by email.

OPS Schools Celebrate Black History Month

February marks Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and honoring the rich diversity of our community and the achievements and contributions of Black Americans. As more students return to in-person learning and some continue to learn from home, our schools are finding innovative ways to engage students in these celebrations.  

Marrs Middle School is joining several other Omaha Public Schools by restarting its team and sending a group of students to the 100 Black Men of Omaha's annual African American History Challenge. The goal of the competition is to foster an appreciation of African-American history and culture in Omaha youth. 

“The study of African American history provides students with an understanding of what happened in the past, what is happening now, and a path for improving the future,” explained Sheila McCauley, coach of the Marrs Middle School team. “With this knowledge, students are able to become better citizens and positively impact their generation.”  

The program is based on the book “100 Amazing Facts” written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and covers topics from the Middle Passage, the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments, Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Voting Act of 1965, Brown vs. the Board of Education, Omaha history and more. 

“In order to tell people about black history and be educated on black history you need to know the facts and the African American History Challenge is a good place to start,” shared Sierra Thomas, a member of the Marrs Middle School team.  

The Marrs Middle School team will compete in the junior competition. The winner of the competition gets to compete at the 100 Black Men of America’s National Conference, which will be held remotely this year for the safety of those in attendance.  

“You learn a lot about history” said McKenzie James, a student on the Marrs Middle School team. “It is important to learn about history around the world, and it is important to learn what people in history did and the accomplishments they achieved and how this affected the world today. “  

In 2019, Omaha Northwest High School's team of Lal Nuni, HToo Say, Tehya Wynne and coach Miss McCoy took first place in the National Senior Division. That same year, Beveridge Middle School earned first place honors in the National Junior Division. The team members included Kennedy Alati, Dee-Dee Djon, Briana Reza-Rivera and coaches Chad Carlson and Sheila McCauley.  

Our celebration of America's diverse history and culture continues throughout the year as an integral part of curriculum across the district. Our goal is for students to learn more about the impactful contributions of those who came before them, providing them a better appreciation of the whole story.