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Legislative Update

Feds release maintenance of equity guidance for ESSER III funds

by | Jun 9, 2021 | Federal Issue, Legislative Update Blog, State Issue | 0 comments

The term “maintenance of effort” has been in the news lately amid concerns that the level of K-12 public school funding approved by the Legislature’s budget writing committee is not sufficient to allow our state to secure approx. $2.3 billion in one-time federal emergency COVID relief funding for K-12 education. 

Another term school leaders are likely to be hearing about is “maintenance of equity.”

The U.S. Department of Education has released guidance on maintenance of equity governing dedicated K-12 funding (“ESSER funding”). This includes information about the difference between maintenance of equity and maintenance of effort, how maintenance of equity applies to state education agencies and to local districts, how high-need school districts are defined, and more.

Maintenance of equity refers to a set of new fiscal equity requirements applicable to federal emergency COVID relief funding (a/k/a “ESSER III” funds) provided under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was enacted in March 2021.

Specifically, Maintenance of equity is intended to ensure that:

  • States do not disproportionately reduce per-pupil state funding to high-need school districts (as defined in ARPA).
  • States do not reduce per-pupil state funding to their highest-poverty school districts below their FY 2019 level.
  • School districts do not disproportionately reduce state and local per-pupil funding in high-poverty schools.
  • School districts do not disproportionately reduce the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff per-pupil in high-poverty schools.

Each state and local school districts that receive ESSER III funds must comply with the applicable maintenance of equity requirements in the ARPA as a condition of receiving those funds and must maintain equity in both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years,

Both maintenance of effort and maintenance of equity requirements are intended to help ensure that states and school districts do not use ESSER III funds to reduce or replace state and local financial support for education. 

  • Maintenance of effort requirements ensure that states maintain their overall financial support for elementary and secondary education.
  • Maintenance of equity requirements ensure that, if funding reductions are necessary, states and school district do not disproportionately reduce per-pupil funding for education in those school districts and schools with the highest percentages of students from low-income families.

More details are available through the links provided below:

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