Education leaders at the state and district levels have opportunities to benefit from what could result, in total, to billions of dollars in unspent ESSER funds. Extended funding would enable almost two additional school years of high-dosage tutoring.
To secure this funding extension, states must obligate their ESSER funds by September 30, 2024 and have until December 31, 2024 to submit a federal liquidation extension request that could enable them to spend those funds into Spring 2026.
Now is the time for high-impact tutoring programs, providers, and stakeholders to offer proposals and a vision for how a state’s remaining ESSER funds could provide the effective tutoring programs that address the nation’s learning recovery needs.
Developing the roadmap towards extending ESSER
In order to take full advantage of the new ESSER guidance:
- Districts should submit a request to their SEA to provide ESSER funds for their academic recovery programs, including high-dosage tutoring,
- SEAs will need to submit a “cover letter” to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) outlining how the plan for the remaining ESSER funds “contributes to the acceleration of academic success for students, including those furthest from opportunity and with the greatest need”.
- For high-dosage tutoring, the letter could indicate how many school districts are requesting liquidation extension to support contracted evidence-based tutoring services throughout the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, and the approximate number and percentage of students to be served.
- USED has pledged to conduct a speedy review of SEA extension requests to support thoughtful implementation of remaining state and district ESSER funds.
- Districts with high-dosage tutoring contracts should begin negotiations with their provider(s) to extend services beyond 2024.
- Some states may require prior approval of funds before contracts can be finalized, which can complicate the path for contract extension if the process is waiting on USED approval. Contingency clauses can be built into the contract in anticipation of the ESSER fund extension.
- AASA, The School Superintendents Association blog post explains, “now is the time to begin having those conversations to see whether you can braid local funds and American Rescue Funds together to extend these contracts beyond January 2025.”
- SEA leaders may opt to set up a statewide contract for districts to buy into, to streamline a statewide high-dosage tutoring program. That could help reduce the burden on numerous districts trying to draft contract extensions.
- States should evaluate current procurement rules to determine timeline and feasibility to establish statewide contracts and process for districts to “buy” off the state contract using their extended liquidation funds.
- If current procurement rules create challenges for meeting the 9/30/24 obligation date, states can consider if there are opportunities to make adjustments to rules and/or statues during this spring legislative cycle to specifically accommodate ARP liquidation extension requests.
Accelerate is committed to building out resources to ensure our grantees and stakeholders take advantage of this important state funding activity. To receive further updates, subscribe below.
Policy Contact: Narric Rome, Managing Director of State & Federal Policy (email@example.com)