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Articles & Insights May 23 2020
Allocation Methodology

Department of Education will distribute payments from the ESSER Fund to State Education Agencies (SEA) for further distribution to Local Education Agencies (LEA) proportional to the amount of funds the school district received under Part A of Title I of the ESEA in the most recent year. Each state shall allocate not less than 90 percent of grant funds awarded to the State to LEAs, including charter schools that are LEAs. The SEA will use the remaining funds for emergency needs as determined by the SEA to address issues related to COVID-19, which may be addressed using grants or contracts from an SEA’s reserve, the SEA may use not more than 1/2 of 1 percent of the SEA’s total grant for administrative costs.

LEA allocations will be calculated using the Title I formula however relief funds will not be subject to Title I requirements.

Allowable Use of Funds

The local educational agency may use the funds for any of the following areas:

  • Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) (‘‘IDEA’’), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C.2301 et seq.) (‘‘the Perkins Act’’), or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.). (emphasis added)
  • Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus
  • Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the 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 local educational agencies
  • Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases
  • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency
  • Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for on-line learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment
  • Providing mental health services and supports
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school 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
  • Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency

The CARES Act emphasizes that recipients of Funds should, to the “greatest extent practicable”, continue paying employees and contractors during the period of disruption or closure due to coronavirus. The timeline for expenditure is one year from receipt.

Unallowable Use of Funds

The Department generally does not consider the following to be an allowable use of ESSER funds, under any part of 18003: 1) subsidizing or offsetting executive salaries and benefits of individuals who are not employees of the SEA or LEAs or 2) expenditures related to state or local teacher or faculty unions or associations.

Reporting Requirements

The SEA will submit to the Department, within 60 days of receiving ESSER funds, a report that will include:

  • A budget for the SEA’s reserve that includes information about the up to 1/2 of 1 percent of the SEA’s total grant for administrative costs and the uses of funds for emergency
  • Needs to address issues related to COVID-19; and
  • An Internal Control and Subrecipient Monitoring Plan to ensure that funds are used for allowable purposes in accordance with cash management principles

SEA may impose additional reporting requirements on LEA recipients within their State to ensure compliance.

How to Access Funds

SEAs were notified on April 23, 2020 of the allocations and were given the Certification and Agreement to submit for access to their allocation. LEAs seeking access to appropriated funds consistent with the allocation methodology should contact their SEA to understand the timeline for distribution. Many SEAs may establish an application processes for LEAs to access their allocation of ESSER funds.


We hope you found this brief informative. If you or your institution has questions regarding how your funds can be allocated, or if you are interested in learning more about other Federal Assistance opportunities available through the CARES Act and subsequent COVID-19 appropriations, contact us at covidhelp@wittobriens.com.