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Legislative Update


Wisconsin’s ESSER III Plan receives final approval from U.S. Education Department

by | May 3, 2022 | Federal Issue, Legislative Update Blog, State Issue | 0 comments

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received confirmation this morning that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has granted final approval of Wisconsin’s ESSER III plan. ESSER III refers to federal COVID relief funding that was allocated to K-12 education under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed by Congress in March 2021.  States were required by the APRA to submit plans for how they would spend this funding and get those plans approved by the USED.

Much of the state’s plan was approved by the USED in December 2021; however, the USED deemed a portion of the plan not to comply with provisions in the ARPA requiring funds to be used to address both the academic impact of lost instructional time during the pandemic and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on certain subgroups of students. The state submitted a revised plan in early February addressing the USED’s objections and that plan was finally approved this week.

The final portion of Wisconsin’s state plan that was just approved focuses on how Wisconsin will spend the 10 percent of funding reserved to the state (i.e., not allocated according to the Title I formula). As approved by both Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) and the USED, the major allocations of that 10 percent reservation are as follows:

  • One (1 ) percent of the funds (approximately $15 million) for evidence-based summer school programming given as competitive grants in two rounds, with the first round open only to school districts eligible for sparsity aid.
  • One (1) percent of the funds (approximately $15 million) for evidence-based out-of-school time programming given as competitive grants in two rounds, with the first round open only to school districts eligible for sparsity aid.
  • Approximately $67 million to districts in a combination floor-ceiling formula that ensures an allocation of $578/pupil (in effect guaranteeing a minimum ESSER III allocation of $323,074 for districts with more than 25 total pupils and a minimum allocation of $200,000 for districts with 25 or fewer total pupils). These funds must be spent by districts on evidence based instructional strategies.
  • Approximately $37.6 million to districts based on the JCF’s initial formula tied to hours of in-person instruction. These funds must be spent by school districts to plan for, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19

A more detailed description of the funidng allocation can be found in the letter from the DPI to district administrators linked below.

At this time, the WISEGrants portal has not yet been opened for school districts to apply for the just-approved ESSER III funding (e.g., summer school and out-of-school time programming and minimum per pupil grants, etc.).  That portal is expected to be open soon.  The DPI will be notifying school district administrators when the portal is open.   We will post information as soon as it becomes available.

It is or understanding that the performance period for those grants ends on December 7, 2022, meaning those grants must be awarded by December 7, 2022.  The DPI may try get this performance period extended because of the delays that have occurred so far. Watch this blog for updates.

You can find a copy of the approval letter from USED here
You can find a copy of a letter that went out this morning from the DPI to district administrators here.

 

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