Districts Purchase IHT ZONE Heart Rate Monitors with Federal Funding

With approximately 4 months left before school districts must spend or allocate all their ESSER III funding, teachers are finding success requesting it to complete purchases that include IHT ZONE heart rate monitors.

Guidelines require that schools have all of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Recovery (ESSER) Act funding allocated by Sept. 30, 2024 and spent by Jan. 28, 2025. Any ESSER III funding that remains at that time must be returned to the US Department of Education. Experts, including those close to physical education, say schools should spend every ESSER dollar they can on worthwhile projects.

ESSERJust recently, Jay Dayton and Jason Schafer accessed their district’s ESSER III funding to purchase IHT ZONE heart rate monitors for their physical education programs. Schafer used ESSER funding to purchase a classroom set of monitors for Pāhoa High and Intermediate School and Kea’au High School (Hawaii). Dayton applied for ESSER funding to purchase 3 sets of monitors to be used at schools in Fremont CSD 25 (Wyoming) and expects final approval soon.

Accessing ESSER Funding

As expected, due to their different state agencies Dayton and Schafer followed slightly different paths to request and obtain their ESSER funding. But, while the overall processes differed, there were similarities: 

  • Both completed forms explaining how the technology would be used
  • Both submitted requests to the state agency for approval

Dayton said his administration made the process to request ESSER funding easy to follow. The district superintendent emailed all teachers with the instructions and he and his colleagues simply followed directions after connecting with the assistant superintendent overseeing the process.

“We had to fill out a district form with our rationale, key information, how COVID has impacted students and how this would help overcome the hurdles that remain from COVID,” Dayton explained.

Dayton has used IHT ZONE heart rate monitors and software in his program since 2017. Though he’s retiring at the end of the school year, his successor, David Collins, sees the value and wants to keep the district’s heart rate monitor program going. Dayton said it helps that Collins has already had success requesting ESSER funding for pickleball and table tennis sets.

“He said once you’ve done it, the next requests are easier,” Dayton said. “You know the form and the rationale, and you’ve only got to plug in the specifics of what you need and you’re ready to submit.”

For Schafer, the process also proved straightforward. Schafer is a District Education Specialist with the Hawaii Department of Education (which serves as the state’s only public school district) representing the Kau-Keaau-Pahoa Complex Area. He attended the 2023 Hawaii AHPERD conference with teachers from his area. They saw the IHT ZONE monitors in action and began the process of requesting funding to purchase them.

Schafer worked with teachers to create the proposal, then submitted the request to use ESSER III funds to his Complex Area Superintendent (CAS). When the CAS approved the request, Schafer made sure the funds went to the teachers so they could purchase directly through their schools.

As a district education specialist, Schafer has visibility to the district’s plan to distribute ESSER funding. He knows how much funding is available and he sees himself as an advocate for campus teachers who are requesting the funds.

“I would say number one (priority) for PE teachers is to have an advocate who sits in the decision-making seat,” Schafer said. “An advocate who knows your program, knows what you provide in your PE program and the benefits that it provides to the school, the students and the community.”

Explaining the Benefits of Technology in the ESSER Request

ESSERThe big thing, Dayton said, about requesting ESSER funding is making sure teachers take the time to fill out the request. Many don’t because of preconceptions that date back to days when physical education almost never saw funding requests granted.

“I know a lot of people think they can’t do it or won’t do it because it seems like a lot of work or they’re just used to being told ‘no,’” he said. “Technology (like this) is a great tool.”

Schafer agreed but said teachers must do the work to prove their program is deserving of the funding. While many states still have significant amounts of ESSER funding remaining, requests are not automatically approved.

“You’ve got to show that there’s value to your program,” Schafer said. “If you're one of those teachers that just rolls out the ball, your principal’s probably never going to give you money because they don’t see the value. How much is this going to cost? How are you going to use it in your classes? What positive student outcomes are going to come as a result of you adding this product?” 

Why IHT’s Technology Appeals to Today’s Teachers

Teachers prefer IHT’s heart rate technology for their students because of the real-time feedback students receive while they wear the IHT ZONE during class. 

“It’s automatic and immediate,” Dayton said. “It’s such a big thing these days because everything is available to you (in real time). Whether they see the light (indicating heart rate zone) or the number (indicating actual heart rate), you know what you need to do (to meet daily goals for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity). The kids are able to get feedback, and the teacher can look at the data and start evaluating the quality of the lesson.”

Schafer agreed, citing the product’s ability to promote individualized student learning.

“That’s the number one thing,” he said. “You have this tool that allows us to demonstrate student learning because we can gather data. Physical education is a place where (demonstrating learning) has always been kind of nebulous. What kind of data do we use to support our programs?”

“Fitness technology is one of those items that’s going to be really useful in gathering data to show the learning students are doing,” Schafer continued. “It’s useful in shifting from actual cognitive learning to physical development of a student because that’s what we’re looking for in physical education. That is progress in PE.”

Along with the ability to collect individualized data on each student, Schafer and his colleagues like the simplicity of the technology.

“I enjoy it because students will be able to clearly look at it and see what’s going on right on their own,” he said. “The system also seems very teacher-friendly.”

What’s the Latest Federal Funding Update?

ESSERSchools spent 99.7% ($12.83 Billion) of the ESSER I funding they received, but data shows that nearly $44 Million went unspent and was returned. Schools spent 99% ($52.4 Billion) of ESSER II funding, but the same data shows that nearly $550 Million went unspent.

“Schools have been given this money and they should find ways to spend it to make sure kids have what they need,” Arizona Department of Education Title IV-A Safe, Healthy & Active Students Specialist Keri Schoeff said.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Economic Stabilization Fund update includes the following ESSER information:

  • $39 Billion of ESSER III remains unspent/unallocated nationally as of March 31, 2024.
  • 5 states -- (Nebraska (59%, Wisconsin, Washington, DC (62%), Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island -- still have more than 50% of their ESSER III allotment available.
  • 14 states still have more than $900 Million in ESSER III funds available, including 9 states that still have more than $1 Billion available, led by California ($4.9 Billion), New York ($3.9 Billion), Texas ($2.9 Billion) and Florida ($2.1 Billion).

What Schoeff advised in 2023 still applies today, even as the deadline approaches: 

“If you are looking at how you are going to fund a program (that brings technology like this) for your program, ESSER III needs to be your first ask,” Schoeff said.

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    Schools Make Successful ESSER Requests as Deadline Nears
    Article Name
    Schools Make Successful ESSER Requests as Deadline Nears
    Districts Purchase IHT ZONE Heart Rate Monitors with Federal ESSER III Funding
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    Interactive Health Technologies, LLC
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