Districts across the Valley have spent millions in COVID ESSER funds, which is the federal money provided to schools to aid students from learning loss caused by the pandemic, and there's still money left over: money that schools need to have allocated in less than six months and completely spent by early 2025.

Salem Schools has $3.5-million left over with $2.8-million going to a brand-new wellness center under construction.

The facility will be 16,000 square feet with a weight and locker room, basketball and volleyball court, as well as a multipurpose area.

"We wanted to create an inviting safe environment for kids to go to after school," Salem Schools Treasurer Michael Douglas said, "and also with sixth-grade levels here at the high school and one gym allows us to increase our physical education offerings, and also give the staff a little bit of flexibility to use the wellness center after hours for our staff."

The remaining $600,000 in Salem will go towards learning services including summer enrichment and intervention programs, tutoring, curriculum, and continuity of services.

Douglas said the district wanted to wait and see the governor's budget for schools before allocating all COVID funds to ensure the best use of money. 

Meanwhile, Struthers Schools has $900,000 left with 20 percent allocated to a ventilation project including HVAC systems and additional cleaning services.

Struthers District Treasurer Ryan Scene said the rest is also going back to the students by expanding academic programs.

"We're going to offer an after-school intervention program at our buildings," Scene said, "We're going to have a summer enrichment program in all of our buildings, and we're doing credit recovery at our high school."

Other local school districts, including Warren and Girard, have plans in place for similar goals with leftover COVID funds, including addressing academic gaps due to the pandemic and additional summer programs for students.