School Safety Today: ESSER Refresher & New Opportunities in School Funding

Dr. Paula Love, Founder of RFP Match, joined Tyler Kern for a refresher on ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) to talk about the latest funding available to help schools. There were plenty of updates and opportunities to share.

Since the pandemic, several different COVID relief acts and packages have provided much-needed funds to the education sector. All this funding adds up to some of the most significant opportunities for education in U.S. history.

“ESSER 1, under the CARES Act, we got 13.2 billion dollars,” Love said. While she thought this was a large amount of money, Love soon discovered this was one of the smaller amounts. “Under the CRRSA money, we got $54.3 billion. That’s almost four times what we got in ESSER 1. In ESSER 3, we got $123 billion dollars.”

Funding is available from all three ESSER rounds, but deadlines to obligate funds are coming. ESSER 1’s obligation date is September 30, 2022. Those funds’ spend-down, or liquidation date, is the end of January 2023. So, if schools are looking to access funds from ESSER 1, they need to start the process soon. The obligation date for ESSER 2 is September 30, 2023, with a spend-down date of the end of September 2024. Lastly, ESSER 3 obligation date is September 30, 2024.

Having established that funds are available, schools can utilize the money for different needs. Those needs have shifted along with the course of the pandemic,

“Where we are right now is looking into not just keeping schools open, but how do we transform and innovate using those funds going forward,” Love said.

There are 20 different allowable uses for ESSER funds, and it is essential schools understand them, “But they are broad, flexible, and allow many school districts to be transformational and innovate in using those funds.” Those uses include school safety solutions. Learn more about school funding for your specific state here.

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