ARP ACT ESSER III
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was signed into law, dedicating funds for K-12 schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III funds. As a result, Rockwall ISD is eligible to receive one-time federal funds through the ESSER III program to be spent prior to September 30, 2024 to address expenses and learning loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The total Texas ESSER Entitlement under the ARP was approximately $12.42 billion. Eligibility for Texas LEAs (school districts) to receive ESSER funding, is determined on whether or not the LEA received Title I, Part A funding in the 2020-2021 school year. The total amount of funding the LEA is eligible to receive is also determined by taking into account the total proportion of funding the LEA received under Title I, Part A in the most recent fiscal year.
Based upon Rockwall ISD’s total Title I Part A funding received in 2020-2021, the District’s estimated ESSER III Entitlement amount is approximately $7,403,897.00.
ESSER III Grant Requirements
Generally speaking, LEAs have broad discretion on determining the best and most impactful use of the ESSER III funds designated to them. However, there are some specific requirements and points for considerations as summarized:
- LEAs must engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders and give the public an opportunity to provide input in the development of the planned uses of ESSER III funds.
- LEAs must post its plan for the uses of ESSER III funds to the District website within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA).
- LEAs must post the “Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Service Plan” (RIPICS) to the District website within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) and review the plan at least once every six months.
- LEAs must spend at least 20% of the funding allocation on evidence-based interventions to address learning loss experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As required by ESSER III grant requirements, the District provided multiple opportunities for stakeholder input into the development of the planned uses for ESSER III funds.
- June 18, 2021 – The District posted the board agenda documents for the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees on June 21, 2021, detailing the Draft Planned Uses for ESSER III funds for public review.
- June 21, 2021 – The District conducted a public hearing at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees to allow stakeholders to provide input in public comments to the Board of Trustees regarding the Draft Planned Uses for ESSER III funds.
- July 12-16, 2021 – The District conducted a stakeholder survey to solicit input into the Draft Planned Uses for ESSER III funds.
The results from the District stakeholder survey can be found below:
Planned Use of Funds for ESSER III Funds
Based upon stakeholder input and engagement, the District has planned to utilize ESSER III funds in the following general uses:
Evidence-Based Interventions – 2021-2022 thru 2022-2023
- Hiring additional classroom teaching positions to provide the opportunity to reduce class sizes for more direct, small-group interventions with students to assist in addressing potential learning loss.
- Providing accelerated educational opportunities for students to help close or eliminated learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Behavioral Support Services – 2021-2022 thru 2022-2023
- Hiring additional counseling positions to minimize caseloads to optimize the counselor’s ability to address academic and behavioral needs of students.
- Hiring additional 504 Specialist positions to support increased number of students requiring Dyslexia services through 504.
- Hiring an additional Diagnostician position to address increase in Special Education and Dyslexia referrals and evaluations due to possible learning losing while schools were closed and challenges associated with remote learning.
- Hiring an additional ESL Specialist position to collaborate with teachers to provide instructional support in second language acquisition and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS).
- Hiring and additional LSSP position to address increase in Special Education and Dyslexia referrals and evaluations due to possible learning losing while schools were closed and challenges associated with remote learning.
Construction of Technology Fiber Network Ring – One-time investment
- The construction of a fiber network ring would provide for virtually unlimited speed and throughput for the District’s network. A dedicated fiber connection for every location takes away the limitations of purchasing bandwidth. This will provide greater access to technology for every student in the District.
Other Planned Uses – 2021-2022 thru 2022-2023
- Pre-Award costs incurred by the District to be able to safely offer in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 school year, including, additional staff positions, technology devices and connectivity, etc.
- Claiming Indirect costs which allows grantees to recover their organization-wide costs of managing federal grants, such as costs related to accounting, budgeting, purchasing, auditing, and payroll processing. This is the same practice the District utilizes on all of its federal grants.
- Utilizing grant funds for an activity specifically because federal funds are available to fund that same activity. The District anticipates using a portion of the ESSER III funds to help fund the personnel costs associated with existing District counseling positions.
The ARP Act ESSER III Use of Funds Plan can be found below:
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan
This plan will provide details about procedures for the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (RIPICS). The RIPICS is required to be posted to the District’s website within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA). Click here for the plan.