ESSER III Fund Frequently Asked QuestionsAmerican Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) fund frequently asked questions and responses.
Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA); American Rescue Plan Act (ARP Act); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); California Department of Education (CDE); Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); county office of education (COE); Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act); Community Violence Intervention (CVI); Emergency Assistance for Non-public Schools (EANS); Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER); Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Fiscal Year (FY); Full-Time Equivalent (FTE); Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER); heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); local educational agency (LEA); Maintenance of Equity (MOEquity); Program Cost Account (PCA); Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS); state educational agency (SEA); School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV); science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); U.S. Department of Education (ED); U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (ED-OIG); Uniform Grants Guidance (UGG)
Note on Guidance
Please note that the information below is intended as guidance only, not legal advice, and is updated as more guidance is made available by ED. The CDE recommends that LEAs discuss their specific situations with legal counsel to determine the most appropriate action, in line with applicable State and federal requirements.
Do LEAs need to apply for ESSER III funds?
Yes. In order to receive an allocation, eligible LEAs must have submitted program legal assurances by December 17, 2021.
A search tool can be found within ESSER III Application for Funds section of the ARP Act Funding web page in order to see the application submission status for each eligible LEA. LEAs must have applied by June 25, 2021, to be included in the first apportionment.
Please see the ESSER III Formula Allocations section for each LEA’s allocation.
When is the last date that ESSER III Assurances can be signed?
The ESSER III Fund Application closed on December 17, 2021. All assurances must have been received by this date for eligible LEAs to receive an allocation.
Do any supplement not supplant requirements apply to ESSER III funds?
No. The ESSER III Fund does not include a local supplement, not supplant, requirement. Thus, there is no prohibition on an LEA using ESSER III funds to pay expenses formerly funded by another source.
What are the allowable uses of ESSER III funds? (Updated 9-Jan-2023)
An LEA may use ESSER funds for the broad range of activities listed in section 18003(d) of the CARES Act, section 313(d) of the CRRSA Act, and section 2001(e) of the ARP Act, based on guidance that what is allowable under one of the ESSER funds is allowable under all of the ESSER funds. Use of any ESSER funds (ESSER I, ESSER II, or ESSER III) must be in accordance with allowable uses in any of these three federal stimulus acts. Below is a consolidated list of allowable uses. Please note that these allowable uses categories will also be utilized during quarterly reporting on each of the ESSER funds.
Any activity authorized by the ESEA, the IDEA, the AEFLA, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, or the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.
Coordinating preparedness and response efforts of LEA with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses with other agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the unique needs of their individual schools.
Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs.
LEA staff training and professional development on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of an LEA, including buildings operated by such agency.
Planning for, coordinating, and implementing activities during long-term closures, including how to provide meals, technology for online learning, guidance on IDEA requirements, and ensuring other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all applicable requirements.
Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students served by the LEA that aids in regular and substantive educational interactions between students and their classroom teachers, including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
Providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools.
Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care, of the LEA, including by–
- Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic needs, including through differentiating instruction.
- Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.
- Providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment.
- Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
- School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.
- Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification, and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.
- Developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff
- Other activities that are necessary to maintain operations and continuity of services and continuing to employ existing staff.
Additionally, Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires an LEA to reserve not less than 20 percent of its ESSER III allocation (Resource Code 3214) to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Allowable uses of this portion of funds are:
- Summer learning or summer enrichment
- Extended day
- Comprehensive afterschool programs
- Extended school year programs
- Evidence-based high dosage tutoring
- Full-Service Community Schools
- Mental health services and supports
- Adoption or integration of social emotional learning into the core curriculum/school day
- Other evidence-based interventions
UPDATE (9-Jan-2023): In question A-4.b of the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED clarifies that the minimum 20% of ESSER III funds that LEAs must reserve to address the impact of lost instructional time (Resource Code 3214) can be used for costs associated with implementing an evidence-based strategy that advances the purpose of this fund source. ED includes examples such as expenses associated with professional development to implement evidence-based strategies, cleaning the space where an applicable program is held, providing snacks or meals to students who are staying at school late to participate in an applicable enrichment activity, or transportation.
What does it mean for ESSER and GEER funds to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? (Added 7-Jan-2022)
All ESSER and GEER funds must generally be used to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. On December 29, 2021, ED released supplemental guidance (PDF) to clarify “What does it mean for ESSER and GEER funds to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?”
In the supplemental guidance, ED encourages SEAs and LEAs to think holistically about their response to COVID-19 in order to address the impact of lost instructional time from the pandemic on all students and to address pre-existing challenges that, if left unaddressed, will impede recovery from the pandemic. The supplemental guidance supports broadening how funds may be used to address the impact of the pandemic and lost instructional time and provides examples of allowable uses. However, LEAs must still articulate in their spending plans how the cost or need is connected to or impacted by the pandemic.
ED also emphasizes wording from the ESSER and GEER FAQs (PDF) published in May 2021: “These Federal emergency resources are available for a wide range of activities to address diverse needs arising from or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, or to emerge stronger post-pandemic, including responding to students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs and continuing to provide educational services as States, LEAs, and schools respond to and recover from the pandemic.”
Please review the supplemental guidance (PDF) for the full text and examples of allowable uses.
What does it mean for an intervention to be “evidence-based?”
For purposes of this requirement, “evidence-based interventions” include practices or programs that have evidence to show that they are effective at producing results and improving outcomes when implemented. This kind of evidence has generally been produced through formal studies and research. There are four tiers, or levels, of evidence:
- Tier 1 – Strong Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented randomized control experimental studies.
- Tier 2 – Moderate Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental studies.
- Tier 3 – Promising Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented correlational studies (with statistical controls for selection bias).
- Tier 4 – Demonstrates a Rationale: practices that have a well-defined logic model or theory of action, are supported by research, and have some effort underway by an SEA, LEA, or outside research organization to determine their effectiveness.
For additional information, please see the Evidence-Based Interventions within the ESSA web page.
Are there any other special requirements or best practices my LEA should be aware of for the ESSER III, Resource Code 3214, funds? (Added 16-Oct-2023)
Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires an LEA to reserve not less than 20% of its ESSER III allocation to address the impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Resource Code 3214 has been established to separately account for the minimum 20% of funds required to be reserved for this purpose.
ED has indicated that an LEA's failure to use 20% of its ESSER III funds to address the impact of lost instructional time through evidence-based interventions may reflect failure to comply with a federal requirement.
As such, the CDE encourages LEAs to prioritize the use of these Resource Code 3214 funds for allowable purposes, and to report accordingly when submitting quarterly reporting. Please review the FAQs on this page for guidance, including the allowable use categories for ESSER III, Resource Code 3214, funds, definitions of evidence-based strategies, and examples of expenditures from other California LEAs and from prior ED guidance. Additionally, the CDE recommends that LEAs review ED's Strategies for Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Address the Impact of Lost Instructional Time (PDF), which includes detailed strategies and examples for use of the 20% reserve of ESSER III mandatory subgrant funds (Resource Code 3214).
How long do LEAs have to use ESSER III funds?
ESSER III funds are available for obligation by LEAs through September 30, 2024. In accordance with 2 CFR 200.344(a), ESSER funds must be liquidated within 120 calendar days after the end of the performance period.
Are ESSER III funds subject to an equitable services requirement?
No, the ARP Act includes a separate program of EANS for which eligible non-public schools may apply to an SEA to receive services or assistance. Consequently, LEAs are not required to provide equitable services under ESSER III. More information can be found on the CDE EANS web page.
Can Federal Stimulus Funds be used for CVI programs and strategies? (Added 2-Nov-2021)
ESSER and GEER funds may be used for CVI programs and strategies to provide student support to re-engage disconnected youth and reduce community violence in places where COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities and increased community and school violence. For more information on CVI strategies and funding, please reference ED’s guidance, How American Rescue Plan Funds Can Prevent and Respond to Crime and Promote Public Safety (PDF) and the Biden-Harris Administration’s Fact Sheet .
Can ESSER funds be used toward strategies for hiring and retaining qualified and effective educators and other staff? (Updated 9-Jan-2023)
On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, sent out a letter to clarify that ESSER III funds authorized by the ARP Act may be used to support hiring and retaining qualified and effective educators, in alignment with the goal to provide safe, in-person learning and address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic impact of COVID-19. Because previous guidance from ED states that allowable uses of one ESSER fund are allowable under all three ESSER funds, this clarification additionally applies to ESSER I and ESSER II funds. The letter describes four evidence-based and promising short- and long-term strategies for addressing teacher and staff shortages that can be funded through ESSER funds:
- Increase educator and staff compensation
- Build and maintain a cadre of high-quality substitute teachers
- Support educator and staff well-being, including improved working conditions (including systems to support educator and staff well-being, increasing the availability of qualified adults and personnel to support educators, students, and staff, and implementing flexible and creative scheduling to support students for full-week in-person learning while providing planning and collaboration time for teachers.)
- Make investments in the educator pipeline
For the full text of this letter, including more information and examples of each of these strategies, please reference the Letter from Secretary Cardona re: Addressing Teacher and Staff Shortages (PDF; Posted 16-Dec-2021).
UPDATE (4-Mar-2022): Additionally, ED has released guidance that summarizes strategies LEAs can implement to address teacher and staff shortages, leveraging ESSER funds. For examples of strategies to address teacher shortages, please see the Using American Rescue Plan Funds and Other Federal Resources to Address Teacher Shortages fact sheet (PDF). For examples of strategies to address shortages of other staff, including nurses, social workers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and others, please see the Using American Rescue Plan Funds and Other Federal Supports to Address Staff Shortages fact sheet (PDF).
UPDATE (13-Jun-2022): ED released additional guidance on June 9, 2022, with the Sustaining Investments in Teachers Beyond the American Rescue Plan (PDF) fact sheet, which provides examples of how ESSER funds can be used to invest in strategies addressing teacher shortages. It also provides examples of other federal funding available that may be used for the same purposes to support the transition from ESSER funding to other available federal fund sources when the period of availability for ESSER funds has ended. This fact sheet acknowledges the ESSER funds are key to supporting immediate, short-term staffing needs, but other federal fund sources may be needed to sustain investments in teachers over time. ED will continue to provide resources and other assistance to states, districts, and schools as they work to address the teacher shortages in the short- and long-term.
UPDATE (9-Jan-2023): In questions D-1 and D-1.a of the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED reaffirms that the strategies above may be allowable ways to use ESSER and GEER funds to stabilize and support the educator workforce. ED also provides new strategies to use ESSER and GEER funds in conjunction with funding and initiatives from other federal agencies to support this same goal. In particular, ED highlights that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued FAQs clarifying that, in some instances, retirees can return to work and still receive their pensions or remain on the job and begin receiving pension payments, where permitted.
Can ESSER funds be used to support college and career readiness opportunities for students? (Added 18-Nov-2022)
On November 14, 2022, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, released a "Dear Colleague" letter that encourages the use of ESSER II and ESSER III funds to support college and career readiness opportunities for students to address the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on post-secondary education and credential attainment crucial for economic security. The letter describes a number of strategies to support college and career readiness, including expanding access to dual enrollment opportunities, providing strong career and college advisement and navigation supports, expanding opportunities for high-quality work-based learning, and giving all students the option to earn industry-sought credentials. Allowable expenditures may include staffing, supplies, transportation, and costs related to expanding career centers that are reasonable and necessary to implement these strategies.
Please see the full text of this November 2022 "Dear Colleague" letter (PDF) to review this guidance, examples of how LEAs are already using ESSER funds for these purposes, and corresponding research to support these uses.
What are some examples of allowable expenditures LEAs are using stimulus funds for? (Added 10-Jan-2022)
The following are examples of expenditures select LEAs in California provided when surveyed about how they were successfully and thoughtfully expending ESSER and GEER funds. All example expenditures were necessary for the surveyed LEA to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Technology for classrooms and for every student
- Maintaining and increasing classified and certificated staff numbers
- HVAC upgrades and replacements
- Additional portable classrooms and bathrooms to allow for social distancing
- Roving substitutes
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Additional transportation
- Contact tracing and testing
- Attendance monitoring systems
- Curriculum materials
- Instructional supplies
- STEM materials
- Nutritional Services
- Backpacks and school supplies
- Implement or significantly expand sports programs
- Expanding counselor and psychologist access
- Social emotional learning resources
- Parent and staff training
How have other LEAs used Federal Stimulus Funds to support students? (Added 17-May-2022)
CDE has performed outreach to LEAs of varying sizes and geographical locations throughout California to find and promote success stories with regards to how Federal Stimulus Funds have been used to benefit students. With increased funding from the ARP Act and other legislation that previously allocated Federal Stimulus Funds, many districts have used this funding in unique ways to help students. When contacted, almost every LEA pointed to three key areas of funding that have been incredibly successful: funding programs to mitigate student learning loss, increased funding for COVID-19 prevention, and expanded purchases of classroom technology. Allocating funds to address the impact of lost instructional time through after-school and summer school programs have created opportunities for increased academic success and learning loss mitigation. Mitigating COVID-19 transmission at school has been a near-universal funding focus, with LEAs allocating funds to increase air filtration, testing, and other mitigation measures. LEAs throughout the state have also purchased computers and tablets while also spending more funds on implementing high-speed internet on campuses. These purchases have decreased the technology access gap among students.
Unique programs specific LEAs have implemented in response to COVID-19:
- Hiring outside consultants to study equity within the LEA and offer suggestions to address learning loss for students who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Hiring more staff, specifically more psychologists coupled with increased mental health services, to ensure students with mental health issues are effectively served.
- Increased special education funding to ensure special education students who were severely impacted by online learning can be helped.
- Increased mental health services funding, as there has been an increase in mental health needs among students.
- Literacy acceleration programs to ensure students acquire necessary literacy skills inside the classroom.
Can an LEA use ESSER and GEER funds to respond to natural disaster-related damage to ensure that schools can open and safely remain open? (Added 9-Jan-2023)
ED has indicated in the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF) that, in limited circumstances, ESSER and GEER funding may be used for natural disaster-related damage response (e.g., fire or earthquake damage), as long as the expenditure fits in with the allowable uses of the applicable fund source and is used to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. ED has advised that LEAs may want to take advantage of any available funding, including through FEMA's Public Assistance program or the Department's Project SERV, prior to using ESSER and/or GEER funds for this purpose. To the extent there are activities that are necessary to meet students' needs in response to the pandemic, including needs exacerbated by a recent natural disaster, ESSER and GEER funds may be used to cover the costs consistent with the applicable allowability considerations (e.g., allowable under the statute and consistent with UGG).
How may an LEA use ESSER and GEER funds to address chronic absenteeism? Can we offer incentives? (Added 9-Jan-2023)
In questions C-11 and C-11.a of the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED provides additional guidance, strategies, and example allowable uses of ESSER and GEER funds for LEAs to address chronic absenteeism that has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, ED describes strategies to locate and reengage students who are chronically absent and encourages LEAs to work with students and families to address underlying needs or barriers that are causing chronic absenteeism. Some examples of the recommended strategies include personal outreach by educators and support staff (including providing translation services or linguistically inclusive information), additional compensation for staff spending time outside their regular work hours to support student reengagement, hiring additional staff for student location and reengagement, partnership with community organizations to support student location and reengagement, actions on campus to develop routines and enrich the school community to prevent absenteeism, developing and implementing early warning systems, and developing and implementing recognition programs for regular attendance.
However, in questions C-11 and C-23.a of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED explicitly states that ESSER and GEER funds may not be used to provide direct monetary rewards to students or families for school attendance, given that school attendance is a mandatory activity. Instead, any incentives funded by ESSER or GEER funds must be through support programs, activities, or similar strategies.
For full lists of example allowable expenditures and relevant resources, please see the full text of these questions within the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF).
How may an LEA use ESSER and GEER funds to support English learners (also referred to as multilingual learners)? (Added 9-Jan-2023)
In questions C-4 through C-4.c of the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED provides additional resources and examples to support LEAs in using ESSER and GEER funds to support the needs of multilingual learners and their families that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. ED encourages LEAs to use ESSER and GEER funds to address the specific needs of multilingual learners by addressing the impact of lost instructional time on students' social, emotional, and mental health in addition to academic achievement, supporting culturally responsive instruction, and supporting family engagement activities. Some recommended strategies include extending the school day or school year to recover lost instructional time, providing language accommodations for multilingual students and their families to better access available programming, developing and implementing formative and summative assessment strategies to better assess student needs, developing and expanding multilingual programs, offering asset-based scheduling practices to support meaningful access to core content classes, expanding community outreach and engagement with local organizations to support family engagement, and offering relevant professional development for teachers and other staff to support these goals.
For full lists of example allowable expenditures and relevant resources, please see the full text of these questions within the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF).
Can LEAs use ESSER and GEER funds to provide meals for students or cover the cost of waiving outstanding school meals balances of students from low-income backgrounds? (Added 9-Jan-2023)
Yes, in certain circumstances. In questions C-16 and C-16.a of the December 2022 revision of the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF), ED clarifies that ESSER and GEER funds can be used to provide meals for students or cover the costs of waiving the outstanding school meals balances of students from low-income backgrounds, if the need is related to COVID-19 response. ED also notes that additional food services needs may arise as a result of pandemic response, including the need for increased staff capacity, additional labor hours to meet new student needs, or additional equipment needs. These situations may also be appropriate uses of ESSER and GEER funds.
However, ED recommends that LEAs use other funding already available specifically for these purposes (such as through the U.S. Department of Agriculture or other federal programs) first.
For additional example allowable expenditures and relevant resources, please see the full text of these questions within the ESSER and GEER Use of Funds FAQs (PDF).
Can ESSER and GEER funds be used to support STEM education? (Added 9-Jan-2023)
Yes, as it applies to COVID-19 response. On December 6, 2022, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, Cindy Marten, released a "Dear Colleague" letter to clarify that federal funds, including ESSER and GEER funds, may be used to support STEM educational strategies. The letter asserts that improving STEM programming and access is critical for short-term learning recovery to address the impacts of COVID-19, and for "preparing students to address future challenges in a complex, interconnected world." The letter also notes how other federal funds may be used for advancing STEM education, which may support sustaining these programs beyond the allowable grant periods for ESSER and GEER funds.
The letter additionally includes an enclosure that provides examples of allowable expenditures and resources that fall into five categories:
- Implementing STEM learning acceleration programs that support students who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Redesigning STEM courses and learning experiences to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM.
- Increasing students' equitable access to STEM courses and experiences, including out-of-school time programs, dual enrollment, STEM-themed schools, and career pathways.
- Recruiting, preparing, and supporting a diverse STEM educator workforce, increasing educators' knowledge and expertise in STEM, and equipping educators to meet the diverse needs of all students.
- Improving student access to materials and equipment needed to support inquiry-based pedagogy and active learning.
Please see the full text of this December 2022 "Dear Colleague" letter to review this guidance, examples of how LEAs can use federal funds for these purposes, and corresponding research to support these uses.
- Implementing STEM learning acceleration programs that support students who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
How much funding was California awarded for ESSER III funds?
The ESSER III Fund accounts for approximately $122 billion of funding for all states and California’s allocation is $15,079,696,097. No less than 90 percent of its allocation ($13,571,726,487) must be used to make subgrants to LEAs, based on each LEA’s share of funds received under Title I, Part A in FY 2020–21. The remaining up to 10 percent may be used for the State reserve.
Will the CDE post preliminary allocations?
Yes, the CDE has posted LEAs’ revised allocations on the ESSER III Funding Results Page.
Are LEAs that did not receive Title I funds in the most recent fiscal year eligible for ESSER III Funds?
With one exception, as described below, no, LEAs that did not receive Title I funds in FY 2020–21 are not eligible to receive ESSER III funds. LEAs receive ESSER III funds based on their relative share of FY 2020–21 Title I funds. If an LEA did not receive Title I funds in FY 2020–21—either because it was not eligible or because it declined funding—then it would not generate a share of ESSER III funds, and therefore would not be eligible to receive ESSER III funds.
The exception is for charter schools that are new or significantly expanding in the 2021–22 school year. ESSER III funding for these charter schools is based on the share of funding they receive under Title I, Part A in FY 2021–22 due to their increased enrollment.
Why is the CDE not apportioning an LEA’s full allocation? How will payments be calculated?
As with most other federal funds apportioned to LEAs, ESSER III Funds are subject to federal cash management requirements. As such, CDE is required to implement cash management practices that minimize the time elapsing between the receipt and disbursement of funds by recipients of formula-based federal grants awarded by the CDE. By agreement with the federal government, CDE meets this requirement, in part, by apportioning LEAs 10% of their total allocation less remaining cash balance from prior apportionments.
How often will LEAs receive payment?
LEAs will receive payment approximately six to eight weeks after the quarterly reporting window closes.
Are ESSER III funds subject to the excess interest calculation?Yes. For more information about interest calculation, see the Calculating Interest Earned on Federal Funds web page.
Why am I not receiving payments of ESSER III (Resource Code 3214) funds? (Added 30-Aug-2023)All ESSER III apportionments are released as a combined payment of both Resource Codes 3213 and 3214 under PCA 15559 and tagged to Resource Code 3213. This payment is calculated based on LEA-reported expenditures of both Resource Codes 3213 and 3214 during quarterly reporting. The funds received by the LEA from the CDE under PCA 15559 and tagged to Resource Code 3213 are to be split and used by the LEA toward either Resource Code 3213 or 3214, as applicable, throughout the grant period.
Ultimately, LEAs are federally required by section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to reserve 20% of their total ESSER III allocation to address the impact of lost instructional time. The applicable expenditures for this purpose are reported by the LEA under Resource Code 3214 to ensure that this requirement is met by the close of the grant.
Can we charge indirect costs to ESSER III? (Added 16-Oct-2023)LEAs may charge reasonable and necessary indirect costs for their total ESSER III allocation (Resource Codes 3213 and 3214 combined) to Resource Code 3213. Given that Resource Code 3214 reflects a 20% minimum reservation for direct spending levels to address the impact of lost instructional time, LEAs may not charge indirect costs to this resource code but may charge such costs to Resource Code 3213, in combination with indirect costs for Resource Code 3213 expenditures.
Please visit the CDE SACS web page for additional information regarding indirect cost rates and applicable accounting guidance.
Will LEAs be required to track ESSER I, ESSER II and ESSER III funds separately?
Yes, ESSER III funds must be tracked separately from ESSER I and II funds. SACS Resource Codes 3213 and 3214 have been assigned for ESSER III revenue. Reporting occurs quarterly and annually. Please visit the Federal Stimulus Reporting web page for more information on reporting deadlines.
Why are there two resource codes for ESSER III funds? (Updated 30-Aug-2023)
Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires an LEA to reserve not less than 20% of its ESSER III allocation to address the impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Resource Code 3214 describes the minimum 20% of funds required to be reserved for this purpose. Resource Code 3213 describes the up to 80% of funds that can be used for the full range of ESSER allowable uses. Any additional expenditures to address the impact of lost instructional time beyond the 20% minimum referenced by Resource Code 3214 can be reported within Resource Code 3213, as this is one allowable use of this resource code.
Can LEAs use funds to reimburse previous expenses?
Yes. ED has stated that LEAs may use the funds for expenses incurred beginning March 13, 2020, the date on which the President declared a national emergency.
Will LEAs be required to report to CDE on these funds?Yes, the CDE requires LEAs to report on the use of funds. Reporting windows and due dates can be found on the Federal Stimulus Reporting web page. LEAs must log in to the CDE reporting portal during the reporting windows to document their expenditures for all ESSER and GEER funds. Please note that it is not possible to report expenditures outside of the reporting window.
Is there anything other than the ESSER III Assurances that must be submitted in order to receive ESSER III funds?
Yes. There are two required plans that must be submitted to support school reopening, safe school operations, and support for students:
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. An LEA that receives ESSER III funds must develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, within 30 days after signing ESSER III Assurances, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. Prior to making the plan publicly available, the LEA must seek public comment on the plan and take such comments into consideration when developing the plan. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page. These plans must be reviewed, at minimum, every six months and revised as appropriate, until September 30, 2023.
- ESSER III Expenditure Plan. LEAs that receive ESSER III funds are required to develop a plan for how they will use ESSER III funds to, at a minimum, address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as the opportunity gaps that existed before, and were exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, LEAs must provide the opportunity for public input and take such input into account. The plan must be adopted by the local governing board or body of the LEA at a public meeting on or before October 29, 2021, and must be submitted for review and approval within five days of adoption. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.
How do we submit our Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan?
LEAs should refer to the ESSER III Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan Template (PDF). Submission and any questions regarding the template should be submitted to EmergencyServices@cde.ca.gov. This plan should be submitted within 30 days of signing ESSER III assurances. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.
How do we submit our Expenditure Plan?LEAs should refer to the ESSER III Expenditure Plan template and instructions (DOCX). For assistance related to the ESSER III Expenditure Plan template and instructions, please contact LCFF@cde.ca.gov. This plan must be completed by October 29, 2021, regardless of when ESSER III Assurances were submitted.
A school district must submit its ESSER III Expenditure Plan to its COE for review and approval. A COE must submit its plan to the CDE for review and approval via email at LCAPreview@cde.ca.gov. A charter school must submit its plan to its chartering authority for review, and to the COE of the county in which the charter school operates for review and approval. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.
Will these ESSER III Plans be reviewed during federal audits? (Added 9-Jan-2023)Yes, the ED-OIG has indicated that they will be reviewing the public input process, public accessibility, and the applicable plan review requirements for both the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan and the ESSER III Expenditure Plan. The Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan must be reviewed, at minimum, every six months and revised as necessary, until September 30, 2023, as required by ED. The ESSER III Expenditure Plan is considered a living document and is recommended to be reviewed and revised as LEA spending needs change in response to changing pandemic conditions. Additionally, the ED-OIG may review how LEAs' ESSER III Expenditure Plans align with their actual expenditures.
Please see the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page for more information regarding these requirements. More information related to the revision process for ESSER III Expenditure Plans can be found within the CDE ESSER III Expenditure Plan FAQs.
Can ESSER and GEER funds be used to conduct vaccine clinics?
ESSER and GEER funds may be used to facilitate vaccine clinics for staff, eligible students and household members. ESSER and GEER funds may be used to help implement public health protocols. Other vaccination outreach efforts are also allowable under ESSER and GEER. This can include public awareness campaigns and vaccine incentive programs. Please reference the On-Site Vaccination Clinic Toolkit (PDF) for more information on how to facilitate a clinic.
Are administrative costs associated with providing vaccinations allowable under ESSER and GEER funds?
Reasonable administrative costs are allowable when associated with obtaining vaccinations.
Can we give students incentives for getting vaccinated?
Incentives are allowable under GEER and ESSER, provided they are reasonable in size and scope and likely to lead to an increase in the rate of vaccinations. Examples include nominal gift cards to each vaccinated student, prize drawings for tablets, new school supplies, college scholarship money, and reasonable cash awards. Any incentives provided by an LEA must meet the requirements in 2 CFR Part 200, including the requirement that the amount of the incentive be reasonable and may not violate any other applicable laws or requirements (e.g., incentives may not involve alcohol per 2 CFR 200.423).
Is it just students, or can families get vaccinated at an ESSER or GEER funded vaccination clinic?
Students, staff, and household members can receive vaccinations from an LEA-facilitated clinic.
Is COVID-19 screening and testing allowable under ESSER and GEER?COVID-19 screening and testing is an allowable use of ESSER and GEER funds, as it is part of implementing public health protocols. Consultation with state and local health officials is key to ensure the adequacy of any COVID-19 testing program and that all applicable laws and requirements are being followed.
May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to provide transportation for students to and from school? (Added 18-Nov-2021)
Yes. Supporting or providing transportation services for students is an allowable use of funds under ESSER and GEER as long as the need is related to COVID-19 (e.g., to support daily attendance at school to address the impact of lost instructional time) and the cost is reasonable and necessary. This could include, but is not limited to, transportation services provided directly by the school district; the cost of public transportation services (e.g., bus or subway fare); taxis, rideshare apps, or other driving services; or compensation to parents for providing transportation services for their children.
This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation (PDF).
May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to provide transportation for students participating in after-school learning and enrichment activities provided by the LEA? (Added 18-Nov-2021)
Yes. If activities take place away from the school or after regular transportation home has occurred and are intended to address student needs related to COVID-19 (e.g., to address the impact of lost instructional time), and the cost is reasonable and necessary, transportation may be an allowable use of ESSER or GEER funds. For example, an LEA may provide before- and after-school learning and enrichment activities for students including, for example, high dosage evidence-based tutoring to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, and other activities that address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students, including extended school year or other compensatory and related services for eligible students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Reasonable and necessary costs of transportation to and from such activities would be an allowable use of ESSER and GEER funds.
This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation (PDF).
May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to address a shortage of school bus drivers due to the pandemic? (Added 18-Nov-2021)
Yes. For example, an LEA may use ESSER or GEER funds for retention bonuses for current bus drivers, for salary increases, or for the cost of hiring additional bus drivers to address the shortage of bus drivers due to the pandemic. Similarly, if an LEA is operating more bus routes due to physical distancing, funds may be used to hire additional bus drivers. In addition, funds may be used to pay for the costs associated with obtaining a commercial driver’s license for new bus drivers, including the required training.
This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation (PDF).
May an LEA facing a shortage of school bus drivers use ESSER or GEER funds to compensate parents or guardians for transporting their students to and from school? (Added 18-Nov-2021)
Yes. ESSER or GEER funds may be used to reimburse parents or guardians for transportation costs or to offer a stipend for transportation costs, as long as they are reasonable and necessary. This type of program may be appropriate to sustain in-person instruction if an LEA is experiencing challenges hiring and/or retaining the school bus drivers necessary to accommodate the LEA’s transportation needs. Before compensating parents or guardians for transportation costs, an LEA must develop clear, objective procedures that, in addition to other relevant factors, consider: the number of days of transportation provided for in-person attendance; documentation of the travel costs to ensure that the compensation is used only for transportation-related expenses; and a process to account for any ESSER or GEER funds that were paid to parents or guardians but not used for transportation costs.
This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation (PDF).
Local MOEquity Requirements
Which LEAs are required to comply with local MOEquity requirements? (Added 15-Feb-2022)
Per section 2004(c) of the ARP Act, local MOEquity requirements apply to all LEAs receiving ESSER III funds, as a condition of receiving these funds. However, certain LEAs may qualify for exceptions.
How can an LEA qualify for an exception from local MOEquity requirements? (Updated 12-Aug-2022)
An LEA may request an exception for FY 2021–22 and/or FY 2022–23 during the applicable reporting window within the Maintenance of Equity Exception Certification Questionnaire in the CDE Federal Stimulus Funding Reporting Portal if at least one of the following circumstances applies:
- The LEA has a total enrollment of less than 1,000 students. When determining enrollment, the LEA should use the best available enrollment data for the applicable fiscal year, which could be the same enrollment data it relied on to distribute or allocate funds for the applicable fiscal year. These data may include, among other data, its prior year enrollment data, an average of multiple prior years’ enrollment, or projected enrollment data for the next fiscal year.
- The LEA operates a single school.
- The LEA has one school per grade span. Current ED guidance does not provide a formal definition of a grade span. One example of qualifying for this exception might be a district that includes one school for K–6, one school for 7–8, and one school for 9–12. In the case of LEAs with continuation schools, an LEA might only qualify for this exception if the continuation school is considered and otherwise treated by the LEA as a separate grade level from its high school.
- The LEA did not have an aggregate reduction in combined State and local per-pupil funding in the applicable fiscal year (i.e., is not facing overall budget reductions). This requires the additional submission of the Certification of Exception from Local MOEquity (Appendix B) for the applicable fiscal year (FY 2021–22 Certification [PDF]- reporting CLOSED as of February 10, 2022; FY 2022–23 Certification [PDF]- reporting CLOSED as of September 14, 2022) by email to EDReliefFunds@cde.ca.gov. Most LEAs likely qualify for this exception during the 2021–22 school year as a result of hold harmless provisions for the 2021–22 school year and increases to State funding. However, each individual LEA should determine whether this exception is applicable. Please note that exception requests are for the applicable school year and should not be based on projected budget reductions that might take place in future school years. Please reach out to EDReliefFunds@cde.ca.gov for questions related to this exception.
- The LEA believes it otherwise qualifies for an exception due to an “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance.” This requires the submission of a request for an exception from ED. This is a narrative description to justify your exception. Exception requests must be submitted to California.firstname.lastname@example.org, and must copy EDReliefFunds@cde.ca.gov. There has been limited guidance from ED on what they may consider as other forms of “exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance,” but they have stated they anticipate few requests. Please see ED's ARP ESSER Maintenance of Equity web page
for examples of exceptions ED has awarded for the 2021–22 school year.
Exceptions for the 2021–22 school year will be collected separately from exceptions for the 2022–23 school year.
Please see the Federal Stimulus Reporting web page for timelines to report exceptions. Please see the Federal Stimulus Quarterly Reporting Help Page for assistance with completing the MOEquity Exception Certification Questionnaire.
My LEA qualifies for an exception from local MOEquity requirements. Do I need to perform and report local MOEquity calculations? (Added 15-Feb-2022)
No. Only LEAs that are not excepted from local MOEquity requirements are required to perform and report local MOEquity calculations.
When does my LEA need to report exceptions and/or local MOEquity calculations? (Added 15-Feb-2022)
Please see the Federal Stimulus Reporting web page for timelines to report exceptions and local MOEquity calculations to the CDE.
My LEA qualifies for an exception as an LEA that did not implement aggregate reductions in per-pupil funding (option 4). What kind of documentation should I maintain to justify this exception? (Added 15-Feb-2022)
Please internally maintain documentation to support the LEA’s exception from further MOEquity requirements for the applicable school year. This documentation should show that the LEA did not have an aggregate reduction in combined State and local per-pupil funding compared to the 2020–21 school year. One example of documentation could be an internal memo with a table for each year, disaggregated by state funds, local funds, and the total combined funds. Please maintain similar documentation internally at this time. If needed at a later date, CDE will directly request this supporting documentation. Please do not send this documentation to CDE unless directly requested.
My LEA does not qualify for an exception from local MOEquity requirements. What is my LEA required to report? (Updated 12-Aug-2022)ED submitted a Notice of Proposed Requirements (NPR) (PDF) document for publication in the Federal Register on December 29, 2021, and published a Final Rule (PDF) in the Federal Register on July 8, 2022, that would require LEAs not excepted from local MOEquity requirements to report the following information:
- The per-pupil amount of funding for each high-poverty school in the LEA in school years 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23, as applicable for the year for which the data are published.
- The per-pupil amount of funding in the aggregate for all schools in the LEA, on a districtwide basis or by grade span, in school years 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23, as applicable for the year for which the data are published.
- The per-pupil number of FTE staff for each high-poverty school in the LEA in school years 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23, as applicable for the year for which the data are published, which may also be indicated as the number of students per FTE staff.
- The per-pupil number of FTE staff in the aggregate for all schools in the LEA, on a districtwide basis or by grade span, in school years 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23, as applicable for the year for which the data are published, which may also be indicated as the number of students per FTEs.
- Whether the LEA did not maintain equity for any high-poverty school in school years 2021–22 and 2022–23, as applicable for the year for which the data are published.
Please see the Federal Stimulus Reporting web page for timelines to report identities of high-poverty schools and local MOEquity calculations to the CDE for each school year.
Please see the Federal Stimulus Quarterly Reporting Help Page for assistance with completing the High-Poverty Schools report and the School Calculations report.
How does my LEA determine which of its schools are considered “high-poverty” for purposes of local MOEquity requirements? (Added 15-Feb-2022)
A “high-poverty school” is a school that is in the highest quartile (¼) of schools served by the LEA based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in the school. As the measure of poverty to rank schools, please use the same methods used to rank-and-serve Title I, Part A eligible schools, described in section 1113(a)(5)(A) of the ESSA. More information about this measure of poverty can be found on the CDE Title I, Part A School Allocations web page.
To identify high-poverty schools,
- Rank each school in the LEA by its percentage of economically disadvantaged students, from highest percentage to lowest percentage, for the applicable fiscal year. Use the same methods used to rank-and-serve Title I, Part A eligible schools, described in section 1113(a)(5)(A) of the ESSA when determining the ranking order of economically disadvantaged schools. An LEA may rank its schools within the LEA as a whole or within each grade span.
- Divide the total number of schools in the LEA by 4 to determine the number of schools that must be included in the highest quartile. If the result of the division is not a whole number, always round up to the nearest whole number (e.g., 9 schools divided by 4 equals 2.25 schools, so 2.25 is rounded up to 3 schools). This is the number of schools the LEA must identify as high-poverty schools.
- Identify the highest-poverty quartile of schools (the number of schools identified in step 2) in the LEA as high-poverty schools. If the LEA ranks by grade span, an LEA may first select the high-poverty school in rank order from each grade span. If an LEA needs to identify additional high-poverty schools, then an LEA has discretion so long as the LEA selects in rank order based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students. For example, an LEA may continue down the list from highest to lowest within each grade span or continue to select schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students in one or more grade spans.
For more information and examples of identifying high-poverty schools districtwide or by grade span, please see the ED’s Maintenance of Equity FAQs (PDF; posted 26-Jul-2022), questions 23–25. Please see the Federal Stimulus Quarterly Reporting Help Page for assistance with completing the High-Poverty Schools Report.
My LEA is not excepted from local MOEquity requirements. Where can I find guidance and examples on how to perform these local MOEquity calculations? (Updated 25-Oct-2022)
ED has released guidance, Maintenance of Equity FAQs (PDF), in order to provide clarification and examples on how to perform the required local MOEquity calculations for LEAs that do not qualify for an exception. Please see questions 22–32 for this guidance, and reach out to EDReliefFunds@cde.ca.gov for additional clarification.
UPDATE (25-Oct-2022): Additional information related to completing required reporting for these calculations, including step-by-step guidance, can be found in the MOEquity: School Calculations Reporting section of the Federal Stimulus Quarterly Reporting Help Page.