The U.S. Congress has provided financial support for districts and schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas received $1.3 billion in ESSER I funding, an additional $5.5 billion in ESSER II, and $12.4 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds (also known as ESSER III).
The pandemic has caused major disruptions in instruction that could take years to remediate. School district administrators and teachers across the state are working tirelessly to meet these ongoing challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ESSER III?
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III funds are being provided under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, Public Law 117-2, enacted on March 11, 2021. Funds are intended to respond to the pandemic and address student learning loss as a result of COVID-19.
What can the funds be used for?
In addition to responding to the impact of lost instructional time, funds can be used to respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, particularly those students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students of low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, and migratory students.
How much will the district receive?
Willis ISD's total allocation will be $9,954,025. The current available amount is $6,636,017.
What is the timeline for spending the funds?
The funds are available to spend once the plan is in place and approved, likely by the first of August, 2021.
Who decides how the funds are spent?
District administrators including the Superintendent will evaluate student data to determine programs that need bolstering. The majority will cover learning loss in the form of additional summer school programs, intensive intervention and remediation programs, professional development for teachers, counselors to cover social/emotional needs of students and families, child nutrition, and bus services.
What are the biggest challenges in planning for the use of these funds?
The grant lasts until September 30, 2024. That means that whatever the funds cover in the next two years will need to end or the district budget will have to be able to absorb those expenditures.