OSSD Public Plan for ESSER ARP Spending


Preamble and Introduction

The following documents are intended to summarize requirements related to how the Orange Southwest School District intends to use its allocation of ARP ESSER funds. Members of the public and other stakeholder groups are invited to provide input on this plan via email to lmillington@orangesouthwest.org

Background

As many of you are aware, Vermont’s education system has received, and continues to receive, significant federal funding as part of the COVID-19 response. In total the state has received close to $500 million in education funds, and one of the largest allocations came in the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, 2021 in the form of the ARP ESSER (ESSER III) grant program. This program allocates $256,647,724 to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), (e.g. Supervisory Unions and Supervisory Districts), and reserves $28,516,484 to the Agency of Education (AOE) for statewide responses to the pandemic.

Purpose of ESSER Funds

ESSER funds are intended to “prepare for, prevent and respond” to COVID-19 and there is a broad, but definitive list of allowable costs that SU/SDs must follow. The US Department of Education states that these funds are intended, “to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students,” with a specific emphasis on meeting the needs of underserved student groups and those most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARP ESSER and Education Recovery

The state received the first two thirds of these funds in March, but the US Department of Education released a set of interim final requirements in April that outlined the process by which they will allocate the remaining one third (approximately $95,054,703). This process included the development of a draft plan by each LEA (this document) and includes meaningful engagement with stakeholders and an opportunity for the public to review and comment upon the draft plan.

In addition, during the winter and spring of 2021, each SU/SD was tasked by the Agency of Education with developing a plan for Education Recovery. These plans center on three main “pillars”: Social-emotional, Mental Health & Well-being; Student Engagement; and Academic Achievement. In addition, a fourth pillar, Safe and Healthy Operations, also emerged as a priority for Education Recovery and includes improvements to indoor air quality and other measures to improve learning environments. The development of these Education Recovery plans involved significant stakeholder input and were submitted to the AOE in June 2021.

As they look to the next several years of Education Recovery and beyond, SU/SDs will rely on federal emergency funds, including ESSER I, ESSER II and ARP ESSER to support these efforts. In addition, SU/SDs will use their regular sources of funding (e.g. local, state and federal funds), to continue pre-COVID work and respond to the needs that have arisen during the pandemic. In short, there is no one source of funds that can address student needs, but there is a significant opportunity with the influx of emergency funds to address long-standing or intractable challenges.

To assist community members and other stakeholders in learning more about how and why we will be allocating ESSER funds, we are pleased to post the ESSER III Plan document below.

OSSD ARP ESSER III Plan

You can also find various supporting documents, including community surveys and other COVID-related plans and protocols, here:

Related ESSER Documents