Put ESSER Funds to Work in Your District

by Carolina Staff

Ready to Dream Big and Invest ESSER Funds in Your District?

This may be a once-in-a-career opportunity to refurbish lab stations, add new electives, update technology, think creatively, and build your dream science classrooms.

The influx of COVID-19 relief funds is giving K—12 schools opportunities to be safer, more inclusive, more responsive to student needs, and technologically up to date. Federal education funding is now at an all-time high, but it’s running out. Now is the time to put your federal funds to work for long-term outcomes. Below you’ll find basic information about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund guidelines and links to primary sources from the federal government and the US Department of Education. Before going through the research, learn how Cincinnati Public Schools planned its ESSER funding with Carolina and Metro Nashville Public Schools created a summer program with Carolina.

K–12 Schools Emergency Relief Funding: The Federal Legislation

Since March 2020, federal legislatures have passed three COVID-19 stimulus bills that directly impact K–12 education. The $190 billion slated for K–12 emergency relief, managed by the US Department of Education, resides in the ESSER Fund.

ESSER Funding: Frequently Asked Questions

There are three pools of money, each associated with a different piece of legislation.

  1. March 2020: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES)–ESSER I ($13.5 billion)
  2. December 2020: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA)–ESSER II ($54.3 billion)
  3. March 2021: The American Rescue Plan Act–ESSER III ($122.8 billion) 

States are allotted money from the federal government based on how much Title 1, Part A funding they receive. States must distribute a minimum of 90% of ESSER funds to local districts (LEAs) based on Title 1 funding and can retain up to 10% for emergency educational needs. ESSER funds are not subject to Title 1 requirements.

The state education agency (SEA) must apply to the US Department of Education for ESSER funds and then disperse ESSER funds to LEAs within one year, as stated in the ESSER Fund Certification and Agreement.

LEA spending deadlines:

  • ESSER I September 30, 2022
  • ESSER II September 30, 2023
  • ESSER III September 30, 2024

Districts must apply to the state education agency (SEA), and LEAs will receive money based on Title 1 allocations within one year of the state receiving federal ESSER funds. You can learn more by reading the ESSER Fund Frequently Asked Questions.

Yes! You can leverage a purchase consortium that is compliant and approved. Most any district can join and use. Learn more about Sourcewell Contract Benefits.

Here is a short list of how ESSER funds may be used to augment and improve science education in your school. Federal guidance may be found here. It should be noted that the state education agency (SEA) cannot restrict the local education agency’s (LEA) use of ESSER funds. Additionally, districts that do not qualify for Title 1 funding also do not qualify for ESSER funding.

  • Sustaining safe school operation
  • Addressing students’ social, emotional, and learning needs
  • Enrichment programs during the summer and school year
  • Intensive tutoring that accelerates learning for students most impacted by the pandemic
  • Hiring counselors, social workers, school psychologists, nurses, and other support staff

There are many allowable uses. For instance, science education projects, materials, supplies, PPE, and lab equipment can be purchased with ESSER funds. Here are some examples:

  • 3-dimensional supplementary instructional materials
  • New hands-on curricula
  • NGSS teaching and learning recovery materials
  • Virtual learning materials
  • Updating and adding new technology like probe ware or virtual dissections
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • School and lab furniture
  • Adding a maker’s space to your classroom
  • Starting a robotics afterschool program

Keep in mind, there are deadlines to spend ESSER monies, so plan your projects now and make a list of what you need to have a top-notch science classroom. Choose the items you need to enhance your science instruction, boost student engagement, and elevate learning success. Dream big!

Take a good look around your science classroom and a close look at what your students really need to succeed; then, make a list. Carolina is here to help you shop for everything on your list, from lab materials and lab safety solutions to curricula. You can even find what you need to design and outfit a new lab. Action items:

  • Check with your building administrator to ascertain who is managing ESSER funds for your district.
  • Get the necessary paperwork to request funding.
  • Be ready to document positive growth in your students.

We Can Help You Be an Advocate in Your District.

Let your district leaders know we can build a package focused on long-term impact in your science classrooms. We can support you by preparing custom proposals for investment in science and STEM education as intended by the US Secretary of Education and ESSER III funding objectives.

Ideal Materials for ESSER Investments

Do you have a long-term investment in mind and would like to discuss it during a brief call? Let us know. We’re happy to consult with you on ESSER planning.

Engage Carolina Assistance for Securing
ESSER Funds for Your Science Program

Tom Trapp

Field Marketing Consultant—Core Science & STEM Solutions
Carolina Biological Supply Company
2700 York Road | Burlington, NC 27215
SciEdSolutionsMatter—Let's Talk!

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