On Tuesday, Feb. 21, IHT hosted a webinar focused on federal funding available to schools for health and physical education. 

Our webinar concentrated on the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Recovery (ESSER) Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and how teachers can apply for those funds to purchase PE technology including IHT ZONE heart rate monitors.

fundingArizona Department of Education Title IV-A Safe, Healthy & Active Students Specialist Keri Schoeff explained how ESSER and ESSA funding can be applied for purchases such as heart rate technology. IHT Regional Vice President Lisa Rothstein explained the resources that IHT makes available to support teachers and administrators who are seeking funding to purchase IHT ZONE heart rate monitors to improve student physical fitness and emotional health.

Three takeaways from Tuesday's webinar include:

  • Start with ESSER when seeking funding. 
  • ESSER and ESSA funding most certainly applies to technology such as heart rate monitors. 
  • You can qualify for ESSA/ESSER funding for specific types of purchases. 

ESSER Funding Will Eventually Expire

Established originally to help schools recover from COVID-19, ESSER provided three different payments to every school district in every state. 

“As ESSER I, II and III came out, the ability to fund things really changed for a lot of our schools,” Schoeff said.

The first round of ESSER funding, known more commonly as the CARES Act, delivered $13 billion from the US Department of Education. Those funds had to be spent by Sept. 30, 2022. The second and third ESSER allocations delivered a combined $176 billion to local districts, or LEAs (Local Education Agencies), to continue to help schools recover. 

ESSER II includes $54 billion that must be spent by Sept. 30, 2023. ESSER III includes $126 billion that must  be spent by Sept. 30, 2024. 

Schoeff’s first piece of advice when seeking funding for proposals to improve student health and well-being: start with ESSER.

"ESSER is a great place to start when you're wanting new equipment for your PE classrooms," Schoeff said. "ESSER II and ESSER III brought a lot of money to local school districts. Some of that may still be unallocated and there for you to seek."

The website budgetchallenge.com includes an interactive map that details how much ESSER funding each LEA received. 

“This is a great tool to use when you’re thinking about how you can use funding,” Schoeff suggested. “You can say things like, ‘I know this is a priority in our state and I know that this is how much money our district had…is there a way for me to access this as a teacher and what do I need to do?’” 

Schoeff also recommends that teachers create advocacy at the campus level before approaching district officials to request funding.

“Start with your principal or department chair and ask if they know what funds are available,” she said. “You don’t want to approach the district level officials without first going through your campus leadership.” 

ESSER II guidelines state that districts must spend their allocations by Sept. 30, 2023, and ESSER III must be spent by Sept. 30, 2024. Any unspent funds must be returned to the federal government at that point.

“Schools have been given this money and they should find ways to spend it to make sure kids have what they need,” Schoeff said. “If you are looking at how you are going to fund a program (that brings technology like this) for your program, ESSER II and ESSER III need to be your first ask.”

Technology to Benefit Student Health and Wellness is Eligible for ESSER, ESSA Funding

A number of school districts – Irving ISD and McAllen ISD in Texas among them – have applied ESSA funding to purchase IHT ZONE heart rate monitors for use at multiple campuses. Schools including San Jose Charter School in California have accessed CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding, a precursor to ESSER, to add heart rate monitors as well.

"Federal funds can 100% support fitness tracking devices and technology in health and physical education," Schoeff said. “These are things we want to be teaching our students. We want our students to be fit individually and devices like (IHT’s) do a great job of helping kids really individualize and personalize learning. This is something our country supports in its federal education law.”

“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.

Protecting Students’ Civil Right to Well-Rounded Education

For years, health and PE teachers felt that their classes did not command the same respect as the traditional academic core classes. ESSA changed that by including health and PE in a list of 18  subjects that make up a “well-rounded education.”

“This is the first time that health and PE have been singled out and significantly mentioned by federal law,” Schoeff said. 

That’s important because now the students have a legal right to these subjects. Districts that receive more than $30,000 in their ESSA Title IV Part A allocation must spend 20% of that funding on providing students with a well-rounded education. Another 20% must be spent on providing safe and healthy schools. 

"It's important for you to know that you can use ESSA (Title IV-Part A, which includes a well-rounded education) for technology such as this," Schoeff said. "Schools can use the well-rounded section or the safe and healthy schools section to fund things for health and PE. And if you think about ‘how can I get my students healthy?’, that’s right where we live.”

Want to watch the webinar? Click here, complete the quick form and you'll receive an email with the link to the webinar that you can watch at your convenience.

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    Start with ESSER When Seeking Funding to Add Heart Rate Monitors for Health and PE Programs
    Funding expert details ESSER and ESSA allocations as options to help purchase technology such as heart rate monitors for health and PE programs.
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