Legislative Affairs

ED Interim Final Rule: Requirements for ARP ESSER III Funds

  • 1.  ED Interim Final Rule: Requirements for ARP ESSER III Funds

    Posted 04-30-2021 11:52
    Edited by ASBO USA 05-04-2021 16:23
    Last week, the US Department of Education (ED) announced it has released $81 billion of the $122 billion in American Rescue Plan ESSER (ESSER III) dollars for state and local education agency relief during COVID-19 and that the remainder of funds would be released upon state educational agency completion and submission of an application. (The state application template is available here.)

    District Administration reports that the state application template calls for meaningful consultation with education stakeholders and the public as states develop their plans and gather information on a broad list of topics ranging from local priorities and needs, efforts to reopen schools safely, coordinating the use of ARP ESSER funds with other federal funding pools to respond to the pandemic, serving high-need students, developing high-quality plans to address student academic and social-emotional needs as well as mental health needs and addressing opportunity gaps, and more. SEA applications to ED are due by June 7.

    In addition, ED released a new interim final rule for ARP ESSER funds in the federal register. Although it is effective immediately, the rule is open for public comment for 30 days after its publication on April 22. The interim final rule has requirements for both SEAs and LEAs. Districts will need to provide specific information in their ARP ESSER applications to states, including:
    • How funds will be used to comply with CDC recommended mitigation strategies to reopen schools and maintain their safe operating status.
    • How the LEA will use the mandatory 20% set-aside to address learning loss/recovery through evidence-based extended school day or school year programs, afterschool programs, or summer programs.
    • How the LEA will spend its remaining ARP ESSER allocation in compliance with the law.
    • How the LEA will target its evidence-based interventions to underserved students or were most significantly affected by COVID-19.
    • Districts must also engage in meaningful consultation with a wide array of stakeholders to develop their plans. 

    AASA, The School Superintendents Association, published a summary of the interim final rule on their blog. Regarding LEA requirements for meaningful consultation, AASA highlights: "In addition to consulting with usual groups (students; families; school and district administrators, including special education administrators; and teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions) ED mandates that the LEA demonstrate that they have consulted with tribes, civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations) and stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students." 

    Separately, LEAs must have a "safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services plan" to be reviewed and revised at minimum every 6 months through September 2024. LEAs must seek public input for its "return to school" plan and take input into account when determining revisions and updates to the plan and changing CDC guidance and other factors that could impact the plan. See AASA's blog for more information

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