CARES Act - ESSER Funds FAQs
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What are ESSER/CARES Act?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27th, 2020. Included in this act are relief funds for schools, both k-12 and higher ed. There are also funds designated for Governor Grants. ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds are the portion for k-12 schools.
How were allocations determined?
When federal funds were distributed to the states they used Title I formulas so that states with higher levels of poverty received a larger portion of the funds. When states allocated funds to LEA’s they also used Title I formula so that LEAs with higher level of poverty would receive a larger portion of the funds. Once an LEA receives their funds, they can use them on services for all students in all buildings. Allocations for private schools are based on the total student enrollment.
How did DESE know my student enrollment?
DESE used your total enrollment from the 2018 NonPublic Registration. This was the data used to allocate your federal title money for the 2019/2020 school year which is when the CARES Act went into effect. If your school did not register with DESE in 2018, you would have had to directly contact DESE and let them know that you wanted to participate in this relief program. There was a deadline of June 1stto do this, so that allocations could be made in a timely manner.
Will I get a check from my LEA?
No, all control of the funds must remain with the LEA. The equitable share of funds allocated for your students and school can be used to provide services or make purchases for your school. During consultation, your LEA will explain the procedure for using your funds. All technology and other non-consumable material purchased with these funds (thermometers, disinfectant sprayers, etc… ) will remain the property of the LEA. This is usually indicated by a label on each item indicating such and through an inventory check-in. Through consultation, your LEA will explain their process.
What can I use these funds for?
CARES Act is a relief package responding to the COVID19 crisis. You can see the full list of allowable uses on our website. In general, funds should be used to help create a safe and healthy learning environment and keep students engaged in their learning. These funds can also be used for anything allowable under Title I, II, III or IV.
Who do I work with to access my funds?
You will work directly with the LEA (Or Public School District) where your school is located. This would be the same LEA that you work with for Titles II, III & IV.
How long do I have access to these funds?
Funds can be obligated from now until September 2021. However, I recommend having a plan for the use of your funds and working with your LEA now.
Can I be reimbursed for expenses from the Spring?
While Public Schools are able to retroactively use their funds, PRIVATE schools must use funds on current and future needs. LEAs can not reimburse you for expenses you’ve incurred and must pay for services and items directly. Work with your LEA to make sure you understand their specific procedure for requests.
Why does a school in my area have a larger allocation of funds even though they are the same size as my school?
LEA's allocations are based on their number of students qualifying for Free or Reduced Lunch. Private School allocations are based on your total enrollment of students k-12. It could be that the other school is located in an LEA with a higher rate of poverty.