Your December Reading List: ESSR Guidance & Resources

Your December Reading List: ESSR Guidance & Resources

While you’re likely looking forward to some time away from talk of budgets, fiscal cliffs, and more this holiday season, we recently came across a few ESSR funding pieces you may want to review. They focus on the latest developments in ESSR spending, and how to overcome planning and implementation challenges. They may also offer some perspectives that you can bring to budget talks and planning in the New Year.

First, on December 7, expanded guidance on ESSR spending was released by the U.S. Department of Education via its Frequently Asked Questions on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Programs/Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Programs.

As noted in an announcement from the Office of State and Grantee Relations, the expanded guidance includes 27 new FAQs and updates to eight existing FAQs that provide clarity on school construction and HVAC; additional information on liquidations; and “additional options for using ESSER and GEER funds to support mental health services for students and educators (C-14), reduce rates of chronic absenteeism (C-11), and promote workforce stability (D-1 and D-1.a).”

Second, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy FutureEd Think Tank article, What Congressional Funding Means for K-12 Schools, (Jordan, Phyllis. December 7, 2022. was updated to include a lot of details about what the expanded guidance allows, doesn’t allow, and more. It also addresses one of the biggest questions that is top of mind: When do funds have to be obligated and spent?

The article notes, “A decision will come ‘at a later date’ on extending deadlines for spending the $54 billion in ESSER funds allotted in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the $122 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP), the guidance states. In the meantime, the department encourages states and districts to spend ‘with urgency on activities that will support students’ academic recovery and mental health needs.’”

Third, McKinsey & Company’s Halftime for the K-12 stimulus: How are districts faring? article shares results from a May-June survey of 260 district decision makers about priorities (i.e., unfinished learning and staffing) and challenges related to the deployment of ESSR funding (Bryant, Jake; Dorn, Emma; Redmond, Wayne; Shelat, Neil; Williams, Claire. November 2, 2022.

It’s worth the read, especially when it comes to a suggested three-step framework to help districts with planning and implementation. As it notes, “Though the window for action is narrowing, there is sufficient time to ensure remaining ESSER funds are strategically allocated toward priorities that will improve student outcomes by addressing immediate learning delays as well as long-standing challenges and opportunity gaps.”

While getting through your reading list, please know that RBT CPAs is here to help with any accounting, tax, audit, or advisory services you may need now or in the new year. To learn more about what RBT CPAs can do for your school district, give us a call.