In April 2021, the Federal Government approved and allocated $11.2 billion in funding to Texas LEAs for the 2020-2023 American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Grant. The program is designed to help school districts address the impact of COVID-19 and return kids to in-person learning.
With the application deadline of Tuesday, July 27th quickly approaching, below are some common FAQs to help clarify pending questions you may have.
1. What is the ARP ESSER III Grant and what can it be used for?
The purpose of the ARP ESSER III funding is to help schools safely reopen, sustain safe operations, and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While 20% of the funds must be used to help address learning loss, the remaining 80% can be used to fund school safety enhancements like new security systems and/or security technology upgrades.
For more specific details on allowable activities and use of funds you can access the Program Guidelines here.
2. How much money is my district allocated and when will my district receive the funding?
A total of $12.4 billion is available to the state of Texas and ninety (90) percent, or $11.2 billion will be awarded directly to eligible school districts.
The federal government chose to award 2/3 of the states total allocation to make funding readily available, the remaining 1/3 will be made available to districts at the end of summer 2021. Find out your district’s funding dollar amount here.
3. What is the funding period for the ARP ESSER III Grant?
Districts are allowed to use their grant funding (post-award) until September 30th, 2024. However, school districts can include pre-award expenses dating back to March 13th, 2020. Grant funding will be distributed by Texas Education Agency (TEA).
4. Who is eligible to apply for this grant?
All LEAs, including school districts and charter schools, are eligible and will receive allocations for the ARP ESSER III grant. Private non-profit schools are not eligible for services under this grant.
5. What are the application requirements?
Within 30 days of receiving the ARP ESSER funds, the school district must publish a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services on its website. Stakeholder input must be gathered during the planning process and before the plans are required to be posted on the district’s website.
6. What is the best way to receive stakeholder input for ARP ESSER III Plans?
LEAs must engage in meaningful consultation with key stakeholder groups including, but not limited to, students, families, school staff, and teachers through community-wide public notice, feedback surveys, and/or public forums.
7. Can the funds be used to purchase safety and security technology (ex. video surveillance cameras and access control card readers)?
Yes, so long as the expense is reasonable and necessary, the LEA justifies the use of funds to the intent of ARP ESSER III, and the district aligns it to an allowable use of funds in the statute.
8. Can the district change the way they use their funds after submitting the application?
Yes, the district can update their preliminary plan as needed and as it receives more stakeholder input. Reviews and revisions must happen every six months until September 30th, 2023.
9. What are some examples of unallowable uses of grant funds?
- Debt service;
- Hosting or sponsoring conferences;
- Subsidizing or offsetting executive salaries and benefits of individuals who are not employees of the LEA;
- Expenditures related to state or local teacher or faculty unions or associations; and,
- Bonuses, merit pay, or similar expenditures unless specifically related to disruptions or closures from COVID-19.
10. Where do I go if I need help with my grant application?
Grant details can be found here or you can contact us. We want every Texas school district to take advantage of this opportunity, and we are available to help. From simple questions to budgetary numbers or writing a scope, our 3Sixty Integrated team is here to help you. There is no charge or commitment to work with us in the future.