In response to the economic outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Congress passed three bills that provided immediate and direct economic assistance to state and local educational agencies through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These funds were provided to support areas with the greatest need, where the academic and non-academic components for school districts had the greatest impact due to COVID-19. As additional funding was provided, the intent of the funds was to support states and local school districts’ efforts to safely reopen schools, address significant gaps in learning, and support measures of implementation that will continue to reduce the effects of COVID-19 on students and families.
For Valdosta City Schools (VCS), that financial support is coming from the three federal funding packages. VCS was allotted $3,417,698.00 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as CARES Act I, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. In the second round of federal funding, authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, VCS is allotted $16,657,658.00 (CRRSA was signed into law on December 23, 2020). The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is the third round of funding. VCS is allotted $37,437,677.00 under ARPA.
The federal monies reside with the state. Entities like VCS submit a proposal for qualifying expenses, then request reimbursement up to the district’s approved amount.
The Georgia Department of Education has developed an ESSER funding dashboard that provides a simple, transparent way for the public to see Georgia school districts’ use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. The dashboard allows the public to see the amount of ESSER funds a school district has received, the amount of submitted budgets approved, and the time remaining in the grant period.