June 15, 2021

States delay federal aid distribution, hampering district budgeting, programs

Delays have been especially noticeable in ESSER I and II, impacting district plans for summer school and leaving superintendents to fly blind when budgeting. As pressure mounts for schools to reopen full time for in-person learning, delays in or changes to federal funding distribution are making it difficult for districts to plan for both short and long-term expenses.

Some states have hindered districts from accessing dollars from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. This is especially true for ESSER I and II, while ESSER III funding remains easier and quicker for districts to access.

At play are a gamut of obstacles tied to the first two pots of money, including legislative language and decisions to supplant or supplement budgets, longer distribution deadlines, and what some believe are political stunts to steer or stall funding. In states like Texas, New York, Kansas, Florida and Nevada, debates by local legislators to use federal funds to supplant budgets instead of supplementing them are frustrating administrators.

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