The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, Public Law 117-2, was enacted on March 11, 2021. The ARP Act provided significant additional funding for educational entities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER III or ARP ESSER).
Similar to the earlier CARES and CRRSA Acts, states will receive ESSER III funds based on their share of Title I funding. Ninety percent of funds received by an SEA must be allocated to LEAs based on each LEA’s Title I share, leaving 10 percent for SEA-level activities.
- Total award to Vermont: $285,164,208
- Total award to LEAs: $256,647,724
- The period of performance for ESSER III is March 13, 2020 – September 30, 2024.
- The allowable costs for ESSER III are the same as those for ESSER (other specific details for ESSER/ESSER II/ESSER III can be found in Fact Sheet from the US Department of Education.
- There is no Equitable Services Requirement for ESSER III.
- ESSER III funds must be tracked separately from ESSER I and II funds.
- There are important requirements for LEAs and the SEA in how funds must be spent and what reports/plans must be made available (outlined below).
The ESSER III funds allocated to your LEA must be budgeted in an approved award prior to March 25, 2022. LEAs will permanently lose access to allocated funds that have not been budgeted in an approved Grant Award by this date and those funds will be returned to the Federal Government. The deadline for applications will be forthcoming.
The ESSER III funds are considered a federal formula grant. Due to the nature of these funds, the Agency is approving pre-award costs as of March 13, 2020, resulting in a period of performance start date of March 13, 2020 and an end date of September 30, 2024.
ESSER III Spending Mandates
Unlike the previous rounds of ESSER funding (ESSER I and ESSER II), ESSER III funds include specific requirements and spending mandates. While we await guidance from the US Department of Education, the following list provides a high-level summary of the requirements for LEAs and the Agency of Education.
- LEA use of ESSER III funds: Of the total amount allocated to an LEA from the State’s ESSER III award, the LEA must reserve at least 20 percent of funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and ensure that those interventions respond to students’ social, emotional, and academic needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups (each major racial and ethnic group, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, gender, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care).
- LEA Safe Return to In-Person Instruction Plan: An LEA that receives ESSER III funds must, within 30 days of receiving the funds, make publicly available on its website a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. Before making the plan publicly available, the LEA must seek public comment on the plan.
- If an LEA has developed a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction before March 11, 2021 that meets the requirements described in above, this plan could serve in place of a new plan. AOE will provide more guidance on this process.
- Maintenance of Effort and Maintenance of Equity: The ARP (section 2004(b) and (c)) contains both State and LEA maintenance of equity requirements for each of FYs 2022 and 2023. The Department intends to provide additional guidance on these important requirements. This language can be found in ARP ESSER Grant Award Assurances (page 10).
- The ESSER III Fund includes three State-level reservations for activities and interventions that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups, including each major racial and ethnic group, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, gender, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care:
- 5% of the total ESSER III allocation ($14,258,000) for the implementation of evidence-based interventions aimed specifically at addressing learning loss, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs.
- 1% of the total ESSER III allocation ($2,852,000) for evidence-based summer enrichment programs.
- 1% of the total ESSER III allocation ($2,852,000) for evidence-based comprehensive afterschool programs
- A State may use up to ½ of 1 percent of its total ESSER III allocation ($1,426,000) for administrative costs and emergency needs as determined by the State to address issues related to COVID-19.
- The remaining funds may be used for emergency needs as determined by the state educational agency (AOE) to address issues in responding to COVID-19.
Strategic Use of ESSER Funds
In budgeting ESSER III funds, LEAs should treat the funds as non-recurring, emergency aid and avoid building in programmatic costs that may not be sustainable after the period of performance ends. LEAs might consider how a need that is likely to be long term could be better met with other federal funding to ensure strategic and sustainable use. Specific information and examples are available in the ESSER II guidance and Federal Education Funding Planning Guidance.
- March 13, 2020- Period of Performance begins
- March 24, 2021—Vermont received initial grant award for two thirds of the total allocation (see ARP ESSER Grant Award Allocation)
- TBD—Deadline for Vermont to submit state application for remainder of ESSER III funds (see Letter to Chief State School Officers Announcing Grant Award)
- TBD – ESSER III Application released to LEAs
- TBD – LEA Application for ESSER III due to AOE
- March 24, 2022—Deadline to have approved grant award
- September 30, 2024—Close of the Period of Performance.
- TBD - Final Invoices Due to AOE
- Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Allocations: ESSER I, ESSER II and ESSER III
- ESSER II Fiscal Guidance (with list of allowable costs for all ESSER funds)
- Federal Education Funding Planning Guidance
- Memo: American Rescue Plan Act Overview
- Memo: ARP ESSER Phase 1 Application for SU/SDs
US Department of Education Guidance
- Federal Register: American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
- Fact Sheet from the US Department of Education.
- ARP ESSER Methodology and Allocation Table
- Letter to Chief State School Officers Announcing Grant Award
- ARP ESSER Grant Award Assurances
- ARP ESSER Grant Award Allocation
Creating and Editing the Application in the Grant Management System
All district administrators (superintendents) and business managers have permissions in the GMS to create and edit the application. If desired, a district administrator can delegate the ability to create and edit the application to additional staff, by assigning the role "leaCARES" to any staff members with a GMS account. See the GMS login page's Training section for the four page instructions and the User Management for District Administrators training video to learn how to assign this role. Note that, as with all other grant applications, only the district administrator can agree to assurances and do the final submission to the Agency of Education.