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Online tool shows schools’ use of COVID-19 relief funds


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 07, 2021 - 7:35 PM

Online tool shows schools’ use of COVID-19 relief funds

The Georgia Department of Education has developed an ESSER funding dashboard that will provide a simple, transparent way for the public to see Georgia school districts’ use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The dashboard is available on GaDOE’s COVID-19 resource site and allows the public to see the amount of ESSER funds a school district has received, the amount of submitted budgets approved and time remaining in the grant period.

“We are committed to using COVID-19 relief funds to improve student learning, address lost learning opportunities and support students’ mental health and wellbeing,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “We are also committed to being transparent as funds are spent, and this ESSER funding dashboard provides a clear, simple way for the public to access that information.”

Georgia school districts have received three rounds of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund funding – through the CARES Act in May 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in January 2021, and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021. The dashboard shows spending under all three rounds of ESSER funding.

The funds distributed to school districts total $5,938,770,343. Twenty percent of the third round of funding must be used to address student learning loss. The remainder of the funds are flexible and can be used to support at-risk student populations, distance/remote learning, school meals, mental and physical health, supplemental learning, facilities and equipment, and continuity of core staff and services.

GaDOE is also working with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to examine the use of ESSER funds in Georgia to disseminate best practices throughout the state. The project will be run through June 2025, and the goals are to:

• Understand how districts use federal relief funds and the impact they have on district practice and, where feasible, students.

• Generate knowledge and lessons learned about student support strategies – academic and nonacademic – deployed by districts including a focus on those that boost staff and organizational capacity, leverage internal and community resources, and are embedded into district practice to maximize sustainability.

• Surface information on factors that influence the selection and implementation of support strategies, which may include district capacity, leadership changes, external constraints or community input.

• Identify compelling stories from Georgia schools about the pandemic’s impact on students and how educators are meeting their needs.

• Provide a shared-learning network for community leaders to learn from each other and raise awareness of best-practice work already happening across the state of Georgia through GPEE’s established Rural Learning Networks.

The project will include surveys of all school districts in 2022, 2023 and 2024 to capture information on their use of federal COVID-19 relief funds; stakeholder interviews to more closely examine issues identified in the survey; developing case studies with an in-depth analysis of the use and impact of funds; and stakeholder roundtables, briefings and presentations to lift up best practices and what’s working in Georgia school districts.

“The partnership is looking forward to leading this study to understand how school districts across Georgia are leveraging ESSER funds to elevate student learning in these unprecedented times,” GPEE President Dr. Dana Rickman said. “Ultimately, this information will help inform state and local policies and provide a shared learning network to support all districts.”

The ESSER dashboard can be accessed at www.georgiainsights.com/esser-budget.html . The GaDOE’s COVID-19 resource site is available at www.georgiainsights.com/coronavirus.html .