B - Readily funds technology as part of an award
New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)
Through the COVID Relief Act of 2021, $81.88 billion was allocated to the US Department of Education (USED) for the Education Stabilization fund. After a small set aside of this total, 67% of the remaining funds were to be used to make supplemental Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) Funds grants.
The ESSER II Fund provides State Education Agencies (SEAs), and their local educational agencies (LEAs), with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had - and continues to have - on elementary and secondary schools across the country. At a time when so many school boards and superintendents have closed campuses for the balance of the school year, ED urges SEAs and LEAs to think creatively and use these funds to facilitate new instructional delivery methods - focusing on investment in the technology infrastructure and professional development and training that will help all students continue to learn through some form of remote learning.
Generally, though, grant funds awarded under the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund may be used by Local Education Agencies towards the following:
- Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (‘‘IDEA''), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (‘‘the Perkins Act''), or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
- Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
- Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
- Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
- Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
- Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
- Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
- Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
- Providing mental health services and supports.
- Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
- Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care, of the local educational agency, including by—
- Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students' academic progress and assist educators in meeting students' academic needs, including through differentiating instruction.
- Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.
- Providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment.
- Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
- School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce the risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.
- Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification, and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.
- Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.
History of Funding
Preliminary LEA allocations for ESSER II are visible at: https://www.nj.gov/education/covid19/boardops/docs/ESSERIIFY21AllocationsTable.pdf
This section will be updated once the LEA allocation amounts are finalized and the state announces it's intentions for the 10% reserve of ESSER II funding.
An overview of differences between CARES Act ESSER and ESSER II is visible at: https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/01/Final_ESSERII_Factsheet_1.5.21.pdf
In addition, the NJDOE has determined to use funds from the State set-aside to provide assistance to non-Title I LEAs, the County Special Services School Districts, Education Services Commissions, Jointure Commissions, Division of Children and Families, Department of Corrections, Juvenile Justice Commission and the Juvenile Detention Centers. These allocations are also available here: https://www.nj.gov/education/covid19/boardops/docs/ESSERIIFY21AllocationsTable.pdf
The NJDOE has also designated $75 million from the State set-aside to establish the Learning Acceleration grant to support research-based academic enrichment activities such as summer learning academies, school year learning acceleration academies and 1:1 tutoring. Learning Acceleration Grants may also be used for activities that support the broader learning ecosystem, such as evidence-based strategies to cultivate a growth mindset in students, professional learning for educators in use of universal screening assessments and in how to use extended day instructional time to effectively scaffold students' learning, and education and training programs for parents and care-givers. Allocations for these funds were made in the same manner as the ESSER II allocations with a minimum allocation of $25,000 per LEA. Both Title I, Part A and non-Title I LEAs received an allocation. Lastly, the NJDOE has designated $30 million from the State set-aside for the provision of mental health services and supports. These funds will support schools in building a continuum of school-based mental health services for students, in coordination with existing county and local services, and supports for educators. Allocations for these funds were based upon total LEA enrollment with a minimum of $45,000 per LEA.
Eligible applicants are New Jersey Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools, within their jurisdiction.
Application for LEAs will become available March 15, 2021. The deadline to submit an application is May 14, 2021 via the EWEG portal.
This is a one-time emergency funding opportunity. Future deadlines are not anticipated.
Approximately $54,3 billion has been allocated for ESSER II, of which New Jersey has been granted $1,230,971,757. The state is required to regrant at least 90% of these funds ($1,107,874,581) to eligible LEAs and charter schools. It may retain up to 10% ($123,097,176) for other COVID-19 response activities but no more than 1/2 of 1% for administrative costs.
The amount of each grant allocated to LEAs (and charter schools with LEA status) shall be based upon the same calculation used to determine their proportion of funding received under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the most recent fiscal year. Funds under this program will remain available for LEA obligation through September 30, 2023. Further, funds may also be used to reimburse any allowable pre-award costs dating back to March 13, 2020, when the national coronavirus emergency was declared.
Note: ESSER II funds must be tracked separately from ESSER funds, and awardees are strongly encouraged to fully expend their CARES Act ESSER award before using ESSER II funds.
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