ESSER in Action in New Hartford: A Community Rich in History in New York State’s Mohawk Valley

September 25, 2023

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is launching a series, ESSER in Action, highlighting how COVID-19 relief funds are making an impact across the country. This initiative is providing AASA members with an opportunity to share their good news stories about school improvement projects underway in their respective communities, through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, that are enhancing their school districts.

NEW HARTFORD: A Community Rich in History in New York State’s Mohawk Valley 

New Hartford Central Schools
Smack dab in the middle of New York State lies New Hartford Central Schools (NHCS), a community located 90 miles from Albany that is full of high-achieving students. The vision of the district: An innovative community of lifelong learners.

Following discussions at several Board of Education and PTA meetings, enhancing technology throughout the district was a high priority when it came to implementing American Rescue Plan funds.

“We have very supporting families in our community,” said Cosimo Tangorra, superintendent of NHCS. “Unlike many neighboring districts, we are grateful that we didn’t experience the same level of learning loss during the pandemic. Many of our students have high expectations. We knew to ensure maximum potential from them, we had to advance our technological hardware.” 

A device for every student. 

“COVID forced us to become a one-to-one district,” said Mary Mandel, assistant superintendent for business affairs, NHCS. Federal funding helped the district purchase educational technology for all students to aid in educational interaction between students and their classroom teachers. “As a businessperson,” said Mandel, “I am very proud that every student in our district has access to an electronic device to help them accelerate their learning. Otherwise, students would have to share their computers and that wouldn’t have worked. It was important to ensure that every family had access to the internet.” 

“It was a huge undertaking to purchase 1,500 devices,” added Tangorra. 

Other top priorities that ARP funding assisted the district with included staffing, particularly in social and emotional learning. The school system added a school psychologist, extra social-worker support, a nurse, instructional coach, and instructional curriculum developing training to implement strategies to meet student academic, social, emotional and mental health needs. 

“This additional support helped teachers focus more on teaching,” said Tangorra. “It helped parents and students reacclimate themselves to regular school days.”

The district is committed to continue the following interventions and supports:

  • Provide support for students who are not meeting state learning standards in core subject areas and credit recovery.
  • Provide and additional school psychologist, extra social worker support, nurse, instructional coach and instructional curriculum development training to implement strategies to meet students’ academic, social, emotional and mental health needs.
  • Continue to purchase educational technology on behalf of all students.
New Hartford Central Schools is home to 2,600 students. The district’s high school offers comprehensive academic and extracurricular programs. A strong traditional college preparatory program and dedicated faculty are hallmarks of the school. With 26 advanced placement courses, students have opportunities to participate in a number of extracurricular activities.

“It’s all about Spartan Pride,” said Tangorra.

For more information about how Lockwood Schools is implementing ESSER funds to enhance its school community, contact Kat Sturdevant, AASA advocacy & governance coordinator, at