According to Latest Update, More than Half of ESSER III Funding Remains Unspent or Unallocated
The latest update to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Act funding shows that states still have $62.1 Billion to spend on programs designed to help schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
School districts in each state have until Sept. 30, 2024 to use their ESSER III funding or risk having to return that money to the federal government. As of Aug. 31 - the latest update provided by Education Stabilization Fund Data, which tracks a number of pandemic-related allocations - states have already spent or allocated nearly $57 Billion, but that represents only 48% of the $119 Billion that has already been delivered to the states
Advocates for student health and physical education urge schools to use every dollar the federal government provides them.
“Schools have been given this money and they should find ways to spend it to make sure kids have what they need,” Arizona Department of Education Title IV-A Safe, Healthy & Active Students Specialist Keri Schoeff said.
Schoeff has spoken on several IHT-hosted webinars discussing the different types of federal funding that have been created in recent years, specifically the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the three types of ESSER funding created in response to the pandemic. While ESSER I and ESSER II will both be expired by the end of the month, she says ESSER remains the ideal place to start for teachers seeking funding.
“ESSER is a great place to start when you’re wanting new equipment for your PE classrooms,” she said.
The latest update from the U.S. DOE’s Education Stabilization fund shows:
- states spent 99.6% of their ESSER I funding, $12.83 Billion of a $12.88 Billion allcoation
- states spent 87% of their ESSER II funding, $45.9 Billion to date, though numbers are likely still coming in.
- states have spent 48% of their ESSER III funding, leaving up to $62.1 Billion unallocated or otherwise available.
The remaining ESSER III funding breaks down this way:
- 5 states have spent more than 60% of their ESSER III funding: Alaska, Washington, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas
- 7 states still have at least $2 Billion available to be spent: California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida
- 14 other states have at least $1 Billion available to be spent
- 7 states still have more than 67% of their ESSER III funding to be spent: Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington DC, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
How to Request Your District’s ESSER Funding
Federal funding – both ESSA and ESSER – can be used to purchase technology such as the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor. Guidelines allow ESSA and ESSER allocations to fund projects that provide students with a well-rounded education (PE is specifically mentioned as a part of a well-rounded curriculum), support safe and healthy schools, and support the effective use of technology.
“It’s important for you to know that you can use (this funding) for technology such as this,” Schoeff said. “If you think about ‘how can I get my students healthy?’, that’s right where we live.
“Healthy students is what we do, and IHT’s trackers and devices like theirs are great uses of funds because they are tying technology into health and PE,” Schoeff said.
Understanding this, IHT recommends following simple steps to request a portion of your district’s ESSER funding:
- Know your district’s federal funding or grant manager.
- On your district's website, use the search feature to search for ESSER. You should be able to access your district's ESSER plan and fund administrators.
- Understand how your district plans to spend its ESSER funding and what the process to apply for it looks like.
- Contact your IHT representative for a detailed quote and other important information to include in the proposal.
- Act sooner rather than later. Any ESSER funding your district has remaining could be claimed by other teachers for other projects.
As Schoeff stresses, the government made this money available for schools in large part to improve student health and wellness as they return from the pandemic. Schools should spend as many of these federal funds as possible before having to return anything unspent.
“If you are looking at how you are going to fund a program (that brings technology like this) for your program, (ESSER III) needs to be your first ask,” she said.