ESSER Funds and Your School
When COVID-19 hit the world in 2020, the federal government immediately recognized the major impact the pandemic had on schools. Aid was provided to public schools through ESSER funds right away for the purchase of equipment and furniture to hinder the spread of the virus, as well as learning aids and programs to assist educators and students in the altered learning environments.
Schools have used the majority of the funds - about 75 percent according to a recent survey of district leaders - but many are questioning what to do with remaining funds as deadlines quickly approach.
The Basics - ESSER Funds Explained
ESSER stands for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The U.S. Department of Education approved the federal relief program to assist public schools as they recover from education disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three federal ESSER funding acts have been approved totaling $122.8 billion.
- ESSER 1 was approved in March 2020 for $13.2 billion
- ESSER 2 was approved in December 2020 for $54.3 billion
- ESSER 3 (also known as the American Rescue Plan or ARP) was approved in March 2021 for $123 billion
Consult this chart to learn much your state received through ESSER funding.
Who Administers the ESSER Funding?
The State Education Agency (SEA) from each state is responsible for administering ESSER funds. Typically, the SEA is that state's Department of Education. The state's governor is the grantee and is responsible for oversight.
What is the Deadline for Spending ESSER Funds?
The original deadline for spending ESSER I funds has passed but seven states (Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin) plus the District of Columbia were granted an extension deadline of March 30, 2024.
ESSER II funds should be used by September 30, 2023.
ESSER III funds should be used by September 30, 2024.
The government requires ESSER funds to be liquidated within 120 days of the availability dates listed above.
How Must ESSER Funds Be Spent?
The government does not provide hard-fast rules on what products or services are covered by ESSER funding. In general, funds can be used to help schools bounce back from COVID-19 learning loss, as well as cover costs schools have or will incur because of the pandemic. Such areas include:
- Adaptations to existing furniture like protective barriers, as well as additional desks, tables, chairs and other furniture to allow for proper distancing.
- Additional handwashing stations, cleaning supplies and equipment and other hygiene-related products.
- More staff for increased cleaning, support and for catching up on learning loss from the pandemic.
- More equipment and supplies, like headphones, that are used by one student instead of shared classroom resources.
- Mobile options for classrooms furniture so desks and chairs can be distanced.
- Outdoor furniture so students can learn in an environment that has a lower spread of germs.
To help facilitate funding approval, provide documentation and data that shows how the equipment and services aid in your school's rebound from COVID-related learning loss as well as the protection of students and staff.
Contact Us and We Can Help
Our team is happy to assist you with your questions about ESSER funding. Give us a call today at (877) 839-3330. You can also chat with a member of our team and they will gladly point you in the right direction.