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Legislative Update

U.S. Education Dept. posts guidance on CARES Act Education Funds

by | May 8, 2020 | Federal Budget, Federal Issue, Legislative Update Blog, National Issue, State Issue | 0 comments

The U.S. Department of Education has posted guidance for state education agencies and school districts, titled “Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund).” (The ESSER fund is the principal source of funding for K-12 education under the federal CARES Act.)

According to the Department, this “document seeks to answer questions that are not easily understood from a plain reading of Section 18003 and other parts of the CARES Act or the ESSER Fund Certification and Agreement (C&A). It was developed in direct response to questions that the Department has received from SEA and LEA grant administrators implementing the ESSER Fund program.”

The guidance includes a technical appendix (beginning on page 7) that outlines how subgrants to school districts and charter schools that are LEAs are to be calculated.

Key topics addressed by this guidance include: supplement not supplant (question 20); eligibility of local education agencies (question 12); and flexibility for school districts regarding the use of ESSER funds (question 15).

In its answer to question 15, the Department encourages LEAs to target ESSER funding on activities that will support remote learning for all students, especially disadvantaged or at-risk students, and their teachers.  

Relevant to question 20, the guidance states that the “program does contain a Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement [to be explained in a separate set of Frequently Asked Questions], which is designed to keep States from substantially reducing their support for K-12 education.”

The guidance does not include any new information about equitable services to students who are enrolled in private schools nor does it provide any new information regarding the “continue to pay” provision of section 18006 of the CARES Act.

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