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American Rescue Plan (ARP) Year in Review

Dear colleagues,

It’s been a little over a year since our plan to spend $207 million in COVID-19 relief funds was approved by the Minnesota Department of Education. Over 50 strategies were launched in alignment with our SPPS Achieves strategic plan to help us reopen schools safely and meet the unique needs of our students coming out of the pandemic. 

As SPPS staff, I hope you’ve been able to see the impact of these ARP/ESSER funds in your schools or departments last year and continuing through this year. You may have more counselors or social workers, dedicated time for job-embedded professional development, resources for staff SEL, enhanced curriculum or upgraded equipment. Hopefully, you’re also starting to see a difference in some of your student outcomes as a result. 

SPPS has been strategic and intentional in our use of these funds, and we have received national acclaim as a result, including an article in The 74 that called our plan “miles ahead of many other districts.” Today, a panel discussion between myself, Chief Stacey Gray Akyea, Innovation Office Director Leah Corey and EXPO Elementary Principal John Bjoraker will air as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s “Raising the Bar” series. You can register to watch the discussion here.

I encourage you to stay up to date on our ARP work, which is regularly updated on our website at There you will find many resources, including: 

While this is one-time funding, I am confident that it is a jumping off point for sustaining programs and services that have a measurable impact on student outcomes. Governor Walz’s proposed budget will bring millions of dollars to public schools including SPPS, allowing us to continue doing what we know our students need into the future. 

In the coming weeks, look for information about engagement events surrounding SPPS’s progress with the strategic plan and ARP strategies. There will be opportunities to come together as a community to provide feedback on how SPPS can better serve our students and staff through these strategic initiatives.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this important work so far. 

In Partnership,

Joe Gothard signature

Joe Gothard, Superintendent