The U.S. Department of Education recently released a 61-page FAQ a school district’s use of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. Most notably the FAQ says that a state education agency or a state legislature may not limit or limit districts’ access or spending of the funds.
The FAQ — which addresses ESSER I and II, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief I and II, and American Rescue Plan funds (sometimes referred to as ESSER III) — provides details on how funding can help specific subgroups of students, including students with disabilities, preschoolers and high school seniors. It also explains how states can make subgrants to local education agencies, as well as the timelines and flow of funds from states to districts.
While the ESSER funds give districts broad flexibility for how to spend the emergency money approved by Congress since March 2020, investments should respond to the impacts COVID-19 had on PK-12 students, such as the recovery of lost instructional time, digital equity and upgrades for safe school buildings, the FAQ said.
Education leaders are trying to distribute nearly $200 billion in state and local education relief funding in a swift and responsible manner while avoiding waste and funding cliffs.