How Are Your Local Funds Being Used?
Want to know how school districts/Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are using their ESSER funds in your state?
According to the U.S. Office of Elementary & Secondary Education:
“All school districts/LEAs are required to post their plans, and all States are responsible for ensuring all school district/LEA plans are posted on the State Educational Agency website.”
In case you haven’t caught the latest news, the Wall Street Journal reports that only about 7% of ARP ESSER funds have been spent by school districts and charter schools.
One reason is that schools are grappling with the best investment of temporary funding that won’t hurt them in the long run. For example, using that funding to hire more staff is great right now, but what happens when that money stops flowing in another year or so? What do you do with a workforce you can no longer afford to pay?
Another issue that is slowing the spending down is the supply chain. The ESSER funds are a perfect opportunity for schools to invest in infrastructure upgrades such as new, state-of-the-art ventilation systems, something that is very much needed across the country. The will is there, just not the supplies. On top of that, there is a labor shortage in the HVAC industry.
Most Recent ARP ESSER Fund Extension
The good news is, the U.S. Department of Education understands the issues and, in a May 13, 2022, letter to the School Superintendents Association, they included an extension for certain uses of the funds beyond the 2024 timeline:
The Department has the authority to approve liquidation extension requests for properly obligated funds upon review of written requests made by the state educational agency (SEA). Should funds be properly and timely obligated—including the requirement a construction project meets the COVID-related purposes stated above—and liquidation becomes an issue closer to the obligation deadline, the Department has the authority to approve liquidation extension requests based upon the specific facts and circumstances of a given obligation and upon written request of an SEA grantee, in accordance with 2 CFR § 200.344(b).
If approved, grantees may have up to 18 months beyond the end of the obligation period, although requests for longer may be considered related to extraordinary circumstances. Under a liquidation extension, the delivery of goods and services may continue to be provided through the end of the liquidation period, so long as a timely and valid obligation had been made pursuant to 34 C.F.R. § 76.707.”
(You can read the full email here)
That means schools can seek more than a year’s worth of time to finish spending federal pandemic relief funds on contracts for construction, mental health, tutoring, and other third-party services.
A department spokesperson clarified further to Education Week, “that the agency typically grants deadline extensions for extenuating circumstances only, such as the supply chain issues that are delaying school construction projects, which will be given priority.”
Hand Washing Stations Are Ready to Ship Today
Perhaps just as important as air quality is the availability of hand washing stations. If we learned anything (or reinforced what we’ve already learned) over the last couple of years, hand washing is one of the primary methods of slowing the spread of disease, and it is also one of the simplest things to do no matter your age or ability.
At Acorn Engineering Company, we have increased production of our hand washing stations to meet the high demand as K–12 schools are strive to make it as easy as possible for their students to wash their hands. We manufacture a wide variety of hand washing solutions to meet almost any application, including freestanding portable sinks, wall-mounted hand sinks, individual and multi-station trough sinks, and completely self-contained models suitable for outdoor use. Our multi-user hand washing sinks even allow individual stations to be temporarily disabled to meet social distancing needs.
Most importantly, they are available and ready to ship right now!