Funding Information — CARES Act (“ESSER”)

What is it?

The Coronavirus Aide, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was enacted and signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act created a $30,750,000,000 Education Stabilization Fund (“ESF”), of which 43.9% (approximately $13.23 Billion) was allocated as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (“ESSER”) funds. These funds have been made available to States upon an approved application in the same proportion as each State receives funds under Part A of Title I of ESEA of 1965. Each state has or is in the process of allocating these funds to local education authorities (LEAs) otherwise known as school districts. States are in the process of creating mechanisms to apply for and access these funds. You may be able to find out your school district’s allocation by searching the internet for the “name of your state” and “ESSER fund allocations”. Most states have announced the figures as of June 10.

So how is Budget Challenge an eligible expense and how do I get the money?

There are two different sections that specifically address the program. The full list is below for reference. If the program is used in a career and technical education setting #1 allows it to be expensed. For all other classes it is eligible under #9 which pays for educational technology including hardware, software and connectivity that aids in regular and substantive.

  • Contact us to get a cost estimate for the number of students you expect to have.
  • Notify your supervisor and building and district financial administrator that Budget Challenge is an approved expense and that you currently use or wish to use the program.
  • Though each state has different procedures, in most cases LEAs (school districts) will be required to document expenditures and how they meet the guidelines.

What are all the things ESSER pays for?

ESSER money is very specific and very limited in what it can be used for. Generally speaking, it is intended to pay for added expenses as a result of dealing with COVID-19. It cannot be used for routine budget expenditures such as staff salaries, utilities, general building maintenance and construction and student transportation. Specifically, LEAs may use ESSER funds for activities that align with the following:

1. LEA discretion for any purpose under:

  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA)
  • Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act

2. Activities related to coordination of preparedness and response to improve coordinated responses among LEAs with state and local health departments and other relevant agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus

3. Provide principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools

4. Address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster students including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population

5. Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs

6. Training and professional development of LEA staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.

7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean facilities operated by the LEA

8. Planning for and coordinating during long term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for on line learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under IDEA, and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements

9. 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

10. Providing mental health services and supports

11. Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool 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.

12. Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in LEAs and continuing to employ existing staff.

Questions? Contact Tim Lambrecht, Director of Education at or 513-335-0619 ext. 405