Six months until spending deadline for more than $1 billion in federal funds

With only six months left to spend ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds, Michigan schools have just over one billion dollars remaining to address the changing educational landscape and unique needs brought about by the pandemic. The spending deadline for ESSER funds is September 30, 2024.

Michigan schools received $5.62 billion in school rescue funds, with the biggest disbursement arriving via President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ESSER III). Since its inception, school rescue funds have enabled schools to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including playing a critical role ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff, facilitating necessary school upgrades, increasing professional development, and providing academic interventions for students needing extra support.

School rescue funds have allowed schools to address technology and connectivity needs, including the purchase of devices, provision of reliable internet connectivity for all students, and support for digital learning platforms.

Schools in Michigan are using funding to combat learning loss and offer specialized support for students who may have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s disruptions. ESSER funds are being allocated towards investments in tutoring, additional instructional materials, and interventions to aid students academically, such as summer programs, credit recovery, and added academic coaching and interventionist positions.

To support the social and emotional well-being of Michigan students, ESSER funds are being used to expand access to counseling and social work and to provide social-emotional learning programs and resources aimed at supporting the mental health and behavioral needs of students.

Another focus has been ensuring educators have the necessary tools and support to navigate the challenges of teaching during a pandemic. Schools have invested ESSER funds in professional development opportunities focused on remote and hybrid instruction, trauma-informed practices, technology integration, social-emotional learning, and specialized academic interventions.

A portion of ESSER funding has been allocated towards facility upgrades and improvements to enhance ventilation systems, address deferred maintenance needs, and create safer learning environments for students and staff.

Additionally, ESSER funds have been used to retain and attract educators via stipends, bonuses, and rectifying educators’ compensation schedules.

In the remaining months allotted for ESSER spending, school districts are tasked with reevaluating their needs to continue making necessary and impactful improvements for students and staff. The pandemic revealed a history of underfunding in our schools that these federal dollars have begun to address. Progress is made when schools receive adequate and equitable funding, and it is crucial to sustain these levels after COVID-19 school relief funds expire.

To see how much money your school district has left, visit the Michigan Department of Education COVID-19 Spend Dashboard.

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