Crick Software blog

Frank X McGarey

Funding sources in the era of COVID

March 17th, 2021

It has never been truer that every school budget dollar needs to be spent wisely. School districts are facing extraordinary COVID related expenses for items like PPE, cleaning supplies, ventilation improvements, technology hardware and internet access, which have only made funds even more scarce.

Fortunately, significant federal funds are available. To help school administrators keep it all straight, I have reviewed what is available now and how districts can utilize the funds. 

The three federal bills have allocated the following funds specifically for K-12 schools:

  • March 2020 CARES Act = $13.2 Billion
  • December 2020 Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act = $54 Billion
  • March 2021 American Rescue Plan = $126 Billion

What is the funding formula and breakdown for my state and district?

The segment of the overall education funding that is specifically allocated to public K-12 schools are dubbed ESSER funds (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief). Here are some of the features of ESSER funds that are important for school administrators to understand:

  • Funds are allocated to States (SEA’s) and Local Districts (LEA’s) based on the same formula used for Title I funds. Districts with larger populations of Title I qualifying students will receive more funds (this document shows the total funds allocated to each state under the American Rescue Plan).
  • However, no other restrictions that apply to Title I funds apply to ESSER funds. Only the allocation formula is used. 
  • In fact, ESSER funds provide a lot of flexibility in how they are used. This is intentional as they are meant to be stimulus funds to be spent relatively quickly, not only to help districts get back on track, but also to get the economy going again (for example, ESSER Funds can be used to cover multi-year purchases).

What can the funds be used for?

In addition to PPE and cleaning supplies, the bills also specifically identify Assistive Technology. This includes purchases that support students under the IDEA Act, and purchases that address learning loss. See our COVID Relief Funding page for more information.

How do the funds get from the Federal Government to my district?

  • The funds for the first two bills have already been provided to each State (SEA). These are available now. The US Department of Education has notified all Governors that funds from the American Rescue Plan will be made available by the end of March.
  • 90% of those funds are then allocated to each District (LEA) based on their Title I formula.
    • Each state has a process where the local district can then request their allocation.
    • In turn, your district may have a formal, or informal process, for you to submit requests to use ESSER funding.
  • 10% of the funds are held by the Governor to use for state-wide education initiatives managed by the state’s Department of Education (more on this below).

How do I request funds for appropriate purchases for my department?

  • Every district varies, but work with your Finance Director or Federal Funds Coordinator to determine how your district will handle request for purchases to be covered by ESSER funds.
  • Don’t forget about that 10% that is held at the state level. Monitor your SEA to find out how those funds will be spent.  Would any of your programs qualify for grants under the statewide initiative?
  • Don’t forget, ESSER funds are not tied to your District’s annual budgeting process. These funds are available now.

Of course, there will be many in your district looking to tap in to those same ESSER funds for their departments. One strong point to make your case is that if the district already spent some of the early funds buying hardware and internet access, you can now purchase the software – including Clicker and DocsPlus – to run on all those devices and support student learning!

Is there anything else besides ESSER?

My district has very few Title 1 students

Part of the funds going to each state are held at the state level for state-wide funding initiatives determined by your Governor and SEA. This is dubbed GEER (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief) Fund. Check with your State Education Authority to determine if you may be eligible for some of these funds. Here is a link to a state by state breakdown of GEER Funds.

What about private schools?

There is another subset of funds within GEER called EANS (Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools). The link just above also has this breakdown. Again, check with your State Education Authority about their process to apply for funding under the EANS program.

Other federal programs – Title 1, etc.

Don’t forget that many traditional sources of federal funds still exist. Here is an excellent recap: 

An Overview of Federal Education Funding

Private funding sources

Additional private sources of grant funds are also available. Here is one that is making funds available right now, the Educators of America- Microgrant Program. This program offers MicroGrants that range from $250 to $5000 to teachers who are “in need of an effective technological tool that will assist in bettering student achievement, not only in their classroom but throughout their entire institution.” The Spring deadline for applying for this grant is April 15th.

If you’re looking for an effective way to invest your new funding and support your students’ recovery, one of our Education Consultants would be happy to help. You can contact us by email at usinfo@cricksoft.com or call us on 203 221 2697 to arrange a free demonstration.

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