Sean Worley, Scott Palmer

 

​​​​​Sean Worley

Senior Policy Associate, EducationCounsel

Sean Worley supports a variety of clients to navigate federal policymaking, including by engaging with Congress and the Executive Branch, to advance equity-centered agendas. Prior to joining EducationCounsel, Worley worked as a high school science teacher and instructional coach with DC Public Schools. He began his career in education as a 2013 Teach for America corps member in Sacramento, California. Worley has also served as an intern with the House Committee on Education and Workforce, where he worked extensively on monitoring state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Worley earned a Master’s in Education Policy and Leadership from American University, and earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology, with a minor in Health Care Ethics, from Saint Louis University.

Scott Palmer

Managing Partner and Co-Founder​, EducationCouns​el

​​Scott Palmer provides policy, legal, strategic planning, and advocacy services to education leaders across the country, including state/national policy counsel and federal advocacy before the White House, U.S. Department of Education, and Congress. He works on a wide range of major reforms, from designing K-12 policies that promote college and career readiness, to building comprehensive birth-to-five early learning systems, to promoting access and diversity in higher education. Palmer previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and Attorney and Policy Advisor in the Clinton White House where he worked on the President's Race Initiative on education and civil rights issues. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of California Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Maryland.

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The CARES Act: Five Things That School and District Leaders Need to Know NowGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning<p> <em>​​​The newly enacted federal law in response to the coronavirus crisis provides more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. The <strong>Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act</strong> comes at a moment when many states and districts are <a href="https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/map-coronavirus-and-school-closures.html">closing schools</a> while seeking to continue to educate students, out-of-school-time programs are pondering how best to offer services​ and summer is fast approaching.</em></p><p> <em>To assist decision makers, this post summarizes five things that school and district leaders should know about the major education provisions in the CARES Act. It also contains information pertaining to nonprofits. This summary was prepared for The Wallace Foundation by <a href="https://educationcounsel.com/">EducationCounsel</a></em>,<em> a mission-based education organization and law firm that has analyzed the text of the new law. </em> <br> </p><ol><li> <strong> <em>The $2.3 trillion CARES Act provides new, one-time funding for states, districts and schools—based in part on poverty but with significant flexibility regarding where funds are used. </em></strong></li></ol><blockquote> The law includes a $30.75 billion <strong> <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/">Education Stabilization Fund</a></strong> divided into three parts and meant to provide initial relief to states and districts facing education challenges stemming from the coronavirus. The parts are: </blockquote><ol type="A" start="0"><ol type="A"><li> <strong>The </strong><strong>$13.5 billion <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/elementary-secondary-school-emergency-relief-fund/">Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief</a> Fund</strong>. States will receive this funding based on the number of students in poverty in the same manner as funding is provided under Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—better known today as ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act. States must allocate 90 percent of that funding to districts, including charter schools, based on Title I, Part A. Districts have flexibility on how to target the funds they receive, including how and which schools are funded. States have flexibility on how to target the 10 percent of funding they retain. One way to think about this funding is that it equates to about 80 percent of the most recent year’s Title I, Part A, funding.<br><br></li><li> <strong>The </strong><strong>$3 billion <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/governors-emergency-education-relief-fund/">Governor’s Emergency Education Relief</a> Fund</strong>. States will receive funds based on a combination of both school-age population and rates of poverty, and governors have wide discretion over use of these funds to support K-12 or higher education.<br><br></li><li> <strong>The $14.25 billion <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/programs/heerf/index.html">Higher Education Emergency Relief</a> Fund</strong>. Institutions of higher education will receive this funding directly, and they have broad latitude over its use, although at least 50 percent of their allocations must support emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare and child care. About $1 billion of the higher education relief fund is earmarked for Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as Minority Serving Institutions. </li></ol></ol><blockquote> Other provisions in the CARES Act directly support early childhood education, including <strong>$3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant </strong>program and<strong> $750 million for Head Start.<br><br> </strong> <strong>Afterschool providers should consider additional relief offered through small business loans</strong>. Through the <a href="https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/023595_comm_corona_virus_smallbiz_loan_final.pdf">Paycheck Protection Program</a>, the CARES Act provides federally guaranteed loans to small businesses—including nonprofits—with fewer than 500 employees. These loans can be forgiven if the employer keeps its employees on the payroll. After the enactment of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program quickly depleted its $350 billion allocation; however, Congress has passed a bipartisan agreement to replenish some of its funding. </blockquote><ol start="2"><li> <strong><em>The U.S. Department of Education will allocate K-12 education funds to states, which will then disburse funds to districts, but this could take several weeks or more. </em></strong> </li></ol><blockquote> On April 23, the Secretary of Education <a href="https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-makes-available-over-13-billion-emergency-coronavirus-relief-support-continued-education-k-12-students">released the application</a> states  will need to fill out to receive K-12 funding from the Education Stabilization Fund. States have until July 1 to complete the applications, and once received by the department, they are to be reviewed and approved within three business days. The department’s state application forms require states to provide technical assistance, if applicable, to districts on district use of funding for remote learning. The form also asks states to describe how they could use their state funding to support technology capacity and student access to technology.  <br> <br> Each state will make Elementary and Secondary Relief Funds available to districts, using Title I formulas. The districts will then make decisions about funding priorities. Although there is an expectation that all involved will move quickly, the process could well take time to unfold—even as states and districts approach the end of their school and/or fiscal years. This means that district and school leaders should consider thinking about use of funds not only for immediate needs but also for the longer term, that is, over the summer and into the coming school year.<br></blockquote> <img alt="The-CARES-Act.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/The-CARES-Act/The-CARES-Act.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> <ol start="3"><li> <strong><em>The CARES Act provides districts (and states) with broad discretion over how they use new funds. </em></strong></li></ol><blockquote> The Elementary and Secondary Relief Fund provides <em>district</em> leaders with broad authority over both the targeting of funds to specific schools and the use of funds more broadly. The CARES Act includes a long list of allowable activities, including any activities authorized under a range of existing federal education laws, as well as a long list of activities broadly related to coronavirus, such as support for principals and other school leaders to meet the needs of their schools; support for education technology essential to   distance learning; and support for measures to address the unique needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness and foster care youth. Also on the list is support for summer learning and afterschool programs.<br></blockquote> <img alt="Allowable-Activities.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/The-CARES-Act/Allowable-Activities.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> <blockquote> States, meanwhile, have broad authority over spending from the Governor’s Education Relief Fund and their 10 percent share of dollars from the Elementary and Secondary Fund.<br><br> Given this, state, district and school leaders should quickly consider: <ul><li>How to use federal funds most effectively; </li><li>What data, evidence and input they will use to inform those decisions; and</li><li>How to coordinate efforts and adopt the most coherent approach across funding streams, including with regard to CARES Act funds supporting early childhood and higher education.</li></ul></blockquote><ol start="4"><li> <strong><em>The CARES Act creates expedited waiver authority regarding ESSA requirements, but federal civil rights laws remain. </em></strong> <br></li></ol><blockquote> <span><span>In addition to establishing the Education Stabilization Fund, the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Education to approve, upon state request, expedited waivers from ESSA requirements, including those regarding state assessments, accountability, and data reporting. If subject to waivers, schools identified for school improvement this school year would retain that status for the 2020-2021 year. Before the CARES Act became law, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had already begun to <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/secletter/200320.html">approve state waivers</a> for these requirements under existing ESSA waiver authority.</span></span><br><br>It is important to note that the CARES Act does not permit states or the Education Secretary to waive federal civil rights requirements. However, the act does require the secretary to report to Congress within 30 days on what additional waivers may be necessary, including with regard to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.<br><br> Upon request by a state or district, the education secretary may waive several financial requirements in ESSA, according to the CARES Act.  Among them are the limitation on carrying over Title I funding from the previous year, the requirement that a school have 40 percent of its students qualify for Title I to use funds schoolwide and the definition of “professional development” (so that districts can train and support teachers using methods that would not otherwise qualify). Also subject to waiver is the restriction on how much Title IV funding can be used for technology infrastructure and the requirement for a school to complete a needs assessment to justify use of Title IV funding. On April 6, the Secretary announced the creation of <a href="https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-education-betsy-devos-authorizes-new-funding-flexibilities-support-continued-learning-during-covid-19-national-emergency">a streamlined process</a> so that states can be approved for these waivers within one business day.<br><br> Last, the act requires states and districts to continue to meet “maintenance of effort” requirements regarding state and local education funding. However, the act also empowers the secretary to waive this requirement if states experience a “precipitous decline in financial resources.” <p></p></blockquote><ol start="5"><li> <strong><em>There are several actions that school and district leaders should consider taking now to promote the most efficient, effective use of CARES Act funds.</em></strong></li></ol><blockquote> In the next several weeks, states and districts are slated to begin receiving CARES Act funds. The <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/how-much-will-states-receive-through-the-education-stabilization-fund">specific amounts</a> have already been estimated for each state and district. There are three immediate steps that school and district leaders can take to prepare for these funds: <p></p><ol type="A"><li> <strong>Identify</strong><strong> the most critical needs—now and over time.</strong>  As noted above, school districts and states will have significant flexibility in use of CARES Act funds, including with regard to which schools and students are supported, and how funds are used. Now is the time to consider key data and evidence, as well as stakeholder input, to identify highest priorities. Given the outsized impact this crisis is having on the most marginalized children and families, decision makers should pay particular attention to equity and the children in greatest need, as well as to ensuring equitable access to education services consistent with federal civil rights laws. <br> <br> <ul><li> <em>For district and school leaders. </em>Consider issues such as how these funds can close equity gaps in remote learning, support school communities that need them most, promote summer learning to mitigate further learning loss and aid good faith efforts to ensure equitable access to education resources for students with disabilities. <br> <br></li><li> <em>For state leaders. </em>Consider statewide priorities but also how funds can be directed at places and populations with the greatest needs. Also consider whether and how to seek ESSA waivers while still keeping critical systems of data and school improvement in place long term. Finally, consider making widely available evidence on effective approaches to supporting districts, schools and students during the pandemic.<br><br></li></ul></li><li> <strong>Maintain</strong><strong> and improve systems for effective coordination and integration of funds. </strong>Districts and states have authority over different CARES Act funding sources. This means it will be important for school, district and state leaders to coordinate effectively about how best to target and use funds as part of a coherent approach to spending. Because CARES Act funds are supplemental and flexible, they can be combined with other state and local funds and strategies (including under ESSA plans) to promote an integrated approach. Further, family and community engagement can play a key role in making the best decisions and having the greatest impact.  <br> <br> <ul><li> <em>For district and school leaders. </em>Consider how to best engage families and communities to help identify the greatest needs and best strategies, and how to best engage with state leaders as well. <br> <br></li><li> <em>For state leaders. </em>Consider what existing or new mechanisms could be used to ensure coordination and learning from the field. Think about how funds could be used most strategically with other plans and establish systems to determine how CARES Act funds are spent. This can help support continual review and improvement in use of funds over time.<br><br></li></ul></li><li> <strong>Analyze</strong><strong> and track additional needs as early as possible.</strong> The coronavirus crisis is far from predictable. Uncertainties include the duration of the pandemic as well as its impact on public health and safety, the economy, and state and local revenues. What it will mean for education opportunity and learning is another question mark. Further, the crisis could extend well into the next school year or beyond, and we cannot know when things will return to “normal” or what “normal” will or should look like. CARES Act funds are likely to be helpful but insufficient. Key national organizations representing school and district leaders have already begun to identify likely priorities for additional funding. To inform other policy actions over time, school, district and state leaders should act early to analyze the likely impact of the crisis on children’s development—academically, socially and emotionally—and on the education system. <br> <br> <ul><li> <em>For district and school leaders. </em>Plan now for different scenarios in the fall and identify likely strategies and needs given your circumstances, including with regard to issues such as professional learning, student diagnostic assessments,​ and child and family supports.  <br> <br></li><li> <em>For state leaders. </em>Consider the same statewide, particularly the budget implications of the current crisis and what it will take to ensure equitable access to education resources, including greater support for children, families and communities in greatest need.</li></ul></li></ol></blockquote>The CARES Act: Five Things That School and District Leaders Need to Know Nowhttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/The-CARES-Act.aspx2020-04-23T04:00:00ZFederal Coronavirus Aid Package Provides School and Preschool Funding; Summer and Afterschool Programs Eligible
American Rescue Plan: Five Things State and District Leaders Need to Know NowGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p> <em>​​​​​​​​​​​Earlier this year, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, the federal government’s third major COVID-19 relief bill. The law provides nearly $2 trillion to support the nation’s efforts to reopen and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Included is more than $126 billion for K-12 schools and additional funding for early childhood and higher education.  </em></p><p> <em>These are historic levels of K-12 funding, far surpassing the amounts in previous pandemic relief bills, and they go well beyond annual federal K-12 education investments. Moreover, the relief package could have an impact well into the future, as districts and states are allowed to spend their allotments through September 2024—enabling them to identify and develop solutions that meet immediate needs and seed long-term, evidence-based shifts to better promote equity and improved outcomes.  </em></p><p> <em>This description of the ARP, with considerations for states and school districts, was prepared for The Wallace Foundation by </em> <a href="https://educationcounsel.com/"> <em>EducationCounsel</em></a><em>, a mission-based education consulting firm. EducationCounsel advises Wallace and has analyzed the new law. </em></p><p> <strong>1. ARP provides at least $126 billion in K-12 funding to states and districts, building upon previous COVID-19 relief packages, to support school reopening, recovery and program redesign. </strong></p><p>The ARP includes $123 billion for the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund—nearly $109.7 billion (about 90 percent) for districts (or local education agencies) and nearly $12.2 billion (about 10 percent) for state education agencies. These funds can be used by states and districts directly or through contracts with providers from outside the public school system.  </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now/ARP-Funding-Compared-ch.jpg" alt="ARP-Funding-Compared-ch.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin:5px;width:494px;" />The ESSER fund also includes $800 million dedicated to identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness. While not included in the ESSER fund, an additional $3 billion is available under the law for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).</p><p>Further, the ARP provides $40 billion for colleges and universities (of which $20 billion must be used to support students directly) and more than $40 billion to support the child care and early childhood education systems.  For additional information on the other funding provided by the ARP, please see <a href="https://educationcounsel.com/?publication=educationcounsels-summary-of-the-american-rescue-plan-act-of-2021">EducationCounsel’s fuller summary of the law</a>. </p><p>In addition, the ARP includes hundreds of billions of dollars in  <a href="https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/state-and-local-fiscal-recovery-funds">State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds</a> that can be used to support early childhood, K-12 and higher education. This includes $195.3 billion to state governments and up to $154.7 billion to local governments and territories. Under the <a href="https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRP-Fact-Sheet-FINAL1-508A.pdf">U.S. Treasury Department’s guidance</a>, state and local governments are encouraged, among other possible uses, to tap the State and Local Recovery Funds to create or expand early learning and child care services; address pandemic-related educational disparities by providing additional resources to high-poverty school districts, offering tutoring or afterschool programs, and by providing services that address students’ social, emotional and mental health needs; and support essential workers by providing premium pay to school staff.  </p><p> <strong>2. ARP funding for districts and states is intended to support a wide array of programs that use evidence-based practices to attend to matters including the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of marginalized students.  </strong></p><p>States and districts have substantial flexibility in how they can use their ARP ESSER funds to support recovery efforts and to seed fundamental shifts in their programs and services. Within the text of the ARP and the U.S. Department of Education guidance about the law, states and districts are encouraged to use funds in ways that not only support reopening and recovery efforts but also seek to address the unique needs of our most marginalized students. This emphasis is woven throughout the ARP, including in its state and district set-asides (discussed below) and the provisions focused on <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/04/MOE-Chart_with-waiver-FAQs_FINAL_4.21.21Update.pdf">ensuring continued</a> and <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/06/21-0099-MOEq-FAQs.-FINAL.pdf">equitable education funding</a> from state and local governments, particularly for highest poverty schools. This equity focus is also inherent in the U.S. Department of Education’s actions to implement the ARP, as evidenced by departmental requirements for state and district ARP plans as well as the department’s guidance regarding use of ARP funds. Equity considerations are meant to help drive state and district decisions to address the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners and students experiencing homelessness. To accomplish this, the <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/05/ESSER.GEER_.FAQs_5.26.21_745AM_FINALb0cd6833f6f46e03ba2d97d30aff953260028045f9ef3b18ea602db4b32b1d99.pdf">Department of Education has described several ways</a> in which the funds can be used. The ARP includes important <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/03/FINAL_ARP-ESSER-FACT-SHEET.pdf">priority state and local set-asides as well</a>, as described below, all of which must be focused on attending to the academic, social and emotional learning needs of students, and must attend to the unique needs of marginalized youth.  </p><p> <strong>States</strong>. Of their $12.2 billion in ARP ESSER funding, states must spend:</p><ul><li>At least 50 percent (or roughly $6.1 billion) on evidence-based interventions to address the lost instructional time caused by the pandemic; </li><li>At least 10 percent (or roughly $1.2 billion) on evidence-based summer learning and enrichment programs; and  </li><li>At least 10 percent (or roughly $1.2 billion) on evidence-based afterschool programs. </li></ul><p> <strong>Districts</strong>. Of their $109.7 billion in ARP ESSER funding, districts must devote at least 20 percent (or roughly $21.9 billion) to evidence-based interventions to address both the lost instructional time caused by the pandemic and the crisis’s disproportionate impact on certain students.  Similar to the previous COVID-19 relief bills, the ARP allows districts to use funds for activities directly related to the pandemic, such as purchasing equipment and supporting and protecting the health and safety of students and staff, as well as for activities to address the unique needs of marginalized students and any allowable activity under major federal education laws, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. </p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now/Full-Set-of-Allowable-Activities-for-ARP-ESSER-Funds-ch.jpg" alt="Full-Set-of-Allowable-Activities-for-ARP-ESSER-Funds-ch.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>3. Funds are flowing to states and districts and will be available immediately, but they can also be spent through September 2024 to support recovery and redesign.</strong></p><p>In <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/03/ARP_Letter_Sec_to_Chiefs_Final_03.24.2021-1.pdf">late March</a>, states received nearly $81 billion (about two-thirds) of the ARP ESSER fund. Although states and districts were allowed to spend this funding immediately to support efforts to reopen schools for in-person learning or to design and operate <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-to-work-on-summer-learning-2nd-ed.aspx">summer learning programs</a>, the remaining third of funding is conditioned on states submitting a plan for how they and their districts would use their ARP ESSER funds. Once the U.S. Department of Education <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/offices/american-rescue-plan/american-rescue-plan-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief/stateplans/">approves a state’s plan</a>, the Department will send the remaining funds to the state, and districts will receive their full shares of the funding (via Title I formula) when the state subsequently approves their district plan. The Department has approved plans from several states already and is expected to approve more over the coming weeks. Districts are currently developing their plans, and those should be submitted in the coming months, but timelines vary across states.  </p><p>While ARP funds are available immediately to support relief and reopening efforts, <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/05/ARP-ESSER-Plan-Office-Hours-5.6.21.pdf">states and districts can spend funds over several years to promote and support efforts to redesign</a> and improve K-12 education and supports for young people.  In particular, districts have until September 30, 2024* to “obligate”<span style="background-image:initial;background-position:initial;background-size:initial;background-repeat:initial;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;">—</span>which means to decide on the funding’s use and plan for it through contracts, service-agreements, etc.<span style="background-image:initial;background-position:initial;background-size:initial;background-repeat:initial;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;">—</span>​their funding. States, in comparison, have a shorter timeline. Within one year of receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Education, states must obligate their funding; however, similar to the timeline for districts, states may spend those funds through September 30, 2024. This three-year period will be critical for states and districts in redesigning how they provide services and supports to students and staff, and states and districts are encouraged to think about this when developing their ARP ESSER plans.<br></p><p> *Per <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/05/ESSER.GEER_.FAQs_5.26.21_745AM_FINALb0cd6833f6f46e03ba2d97d30aff953260028045f9ef3b18ea602db4b32b1d99.pdf">federal spending regulations</a>, states and districts have 120 days after a performance period to fully liquidate funds received. Accordingly, states and districts have until January 28, 2025, to liquidate their funding. Although this provides a slightly longer window to spend funding, we are using the September 30, 2024, obligation as the main deadline for states and districts to keep in mind for planning purposes.</p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now/Timeline-ARP-Implementation-ch.jpg" alt="Timeline-ARP-Implementation-ch.jpg" style="color:#555555;font-size:14px;margin:5px;" />  </p><p> <strong>4. The U.S. Department of Education requires states, and districts, to develop plans for how they will use ARP ESSER funding and to revisit plans for periodic review and continuous improvement.</strong></p> ​As a condition of receiving their full ARP ESSER funds, <a href="https://oese.ed.gov/files/2021/04/ARP-ESSER-State-Plan-Template-04-20-2021_130PM.pdf">every state and district must produce a plan</a> that describes how they will use their share of the ARP ESSER funding, and districts must also produce school reopening plans. Although they are required to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education only once, states and districts must periodically review and, if necessary, improve those plans. The requirement for states and districts to develop and submit plans is new; it was not a feature of the previous two pandemic relief bills. The requirement also has several noteworthy aspects.  <p></p><p>For one thing, to complete the plans states and districts must evaluate and report out the needs of their students and staff, including their most marginalized student groups. For another, states must identify their top priority areas in recovering from the pandemic. In addition, states and districts must consult with key stakeholders such as students, families, educators, community advocates and school leaders.</p><p>Below is a list of the seven major areas that the U.S. Department of Education requires each state plan to address, <a href="https://educationcounsel.com/?publication=educationcounsels-summary-of-used-state-plan-template-for-arp-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief-esser-fund">each of which has several requirements</a>:  </p><ol><li>The state’s current reopening status, any identified promising practices for supporting students, overall priorities for reopening and recovery and the needs of historically marginalized students<br></li><li>How the state will support districts in reopening schools for full-time in-person instruction, and how the state will support districts in sustaining the safe operation of schools for full-time in-person instruction<br></li><li>How the state will engage with stakeholders in developing its ARP ESSER plans and how the state will combine ARP funding with funding from other federal sources to maximize the impact of the spending<br></li><li>How the state will use its set-aside funding to address lost instructional time, support summer learning and enrichment programs and support afterschool programs<br></li><li>What the state will require districts to include in their ARP ESSER plans, how the state will ensure that districts engage with stakeholders during the planning process, and how states will monitor and support districts in implementation of their ARP ESSER plans<br></li><li>How the state will support its educator workforce and identify areas that are currently experiencing shortages<br></li><li>How the state will build and support its capacity for data collection and reporting so that it can continuously improve the ARP ESSER plans of both the state and its districts  </li></ol><p>Although they may provide valuable insight into how states and districts will approach using their ARP ESSER funds, the plans may not give the full picture of how the funds will be used—especially for some states and districts. That’s because the plans may not be the only governing documents for states and districts, and the plans can change. In fact, as noted above, the <a href="https://educationcounsel.com/two-opportunities-for-states-to-support-more-thoughtful-school-district-recovery-plans/">Department encourages—indeed requires in some aspects—states and districts to periodically review</a> and adapt the plans. Plans may also be limited because of current circumstances; that is, it may be difficult for districts and states to be plotting moves several years ahead of time while facing pressing and immediate summer programming and fall-reopening needs.    </p><p> <strong>5. What possibilities and factors might state/district leaders consider when planning for using ARP ESSER funds? </strong></p><p>Education leaders and practitioners across the country have faced the pandemic with resilience and compassion for their students and families. They have overcome challenges unheard of only 18 months ago, and they will continue to face an uphill battle as our nation recovers from this pandemic. The funding from the ARP can help in this effort—to address immediate needs and transform our education systems based on evidence and stakeholder input, including what we know from the science of learning and development.  <br> <br>Based on our long history at EducationCounsel of supporting state and district leaders in developing equity-centered approaches and policies, we provide, below, several considerations for sound planning and use of ARP funding. We hope these considerations will offer leaders insights into how they can think longer-term, best support their most marginalized students and those most severely affected by the pandemic, and develop strong systems of continuous improvement.  </p><ul><li> <em>Don’t just fill holes, plant seeds. </em>The ARP gives leaders the opportunity to provide what their students and families need most immediately, but there is also great need and opportunity to create improved systems over the longer-term. Because funds can be obligated and spent through September 30, 2024, leaders have time to think about the potential of their systems in the next three to five years. While deciding on evidence-based programs that will support current reopening needs, leaders can simultaneously look ahead to how public school education and necessary comprehensive supports for young people can be redesigned and improved. Successful improvements may require additional state or local funding, if efforts are to be sustained long term. Accordingly, leaders may want to consider various strategies to blend ARP funding with other funding sources (including future funding sources) to avoid any funding cliff that may occur when ARP funding ends in 2024. Forming strategic partnerships, building and leaning on the full system of supports for students, and creating community investment will help plant and cultivate those seeds for future progress.<br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <em>Focus funding on programs and initiatives that will have the most direct impact on marginalized students. </em>The ARP is centered on equity and is designed particularly to attend to the needs of students who have been most severely affected by the pandemic. The <a href="https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/20210608-impacts-of-covid19.pdf">U.S. Department of Education has documented the level of trauma</a> such students faced over the course of the pandemic and how this trauma compounds the previous challenges and inequities our students were forced to confront. We encourage leaders to consider how to implement programs that will provide targeted relief and support to marginalized students and those programs that will have the greatest impact on those with the greatest need. This necessitates deep examination of the unique needs of low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, LGBTQ+ students and students experiencing homelessness, and how those unique needs may require unique solutions. <br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <em>Support the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students and staff<span style="background-image:initial;background-position:initial;background-size:initial;background-repeat:initial;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;">—</span>in schools and across the various systems of student supports.</em> The level of trauma students <em>and</em> staff have faced these last 18 months is unprecedented. Given this, leaders can use ARP funds to create cultures and structures that address the whole spectrum of student needs. <a href="https://eb0b6ac7-8d5b-43ca-82bf-5fa89e49b5cb.usrfiles.com/ugd/eb0b6a_042c6c82a88144249223ca80bc9c2919.pdf">This could include designing school and other learning environments</a>, based on evidence, to best serve whole-child recovery and equity by fostering positive relationships, improving the sense of safety and belonging, creating rich and rigorous learning experiences, and integrating supports throughout the entire school. Implementing such efforts and building these cultures was <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/early-lessons-from-schools-and-out-of-school-time-programs-implementing-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx">beneficial to students before the pandemic</a> and will be even more important now. School and district leaders might do well to remember the needs of their staff members during this moment, including <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/evidence-based-considerations-for-covid-19-reopening-recovery-planning-the-importance-of-sel.aspx">how developing staff social and emotional learning skills is essential</a> to supporting students’ needs. (We’ve linked to design principles created by the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance, on which Scott Palmer serves as a member of the leadership team and EducationCounsel is a governing partner in the initiative.)<br><br>Among the questions they might ask are: What needs to be different about welcoming procedures? Do schools need additional support staff? Are teachers and school leaders equipped with the tools and resources they need to fully respond to the circumstances schools now face? How can out-of-school-time providers become full partners with schools, so that students find themselves fully supported in<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/stability-and-change-in-afterschool-systems-2013-2020-a-follow-up-study-of-afterschool-coordination-in-large-cities.aspx"> an ecosystem of school and out-of-school</a>-time supports?   <br><br></li><li> <em>Develop current (and future) school leaders to meet the moment.</em> School leaders are <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx">central to successful efforts to improve schools and outcomes for students</a>, but no current school leader has experienced a pandemic and interruption in learning at this scale, and principals more than ever need support from their state and district leadership. State and district leaders can use ARP funds to develop and provide guidance on reopening and recovery; provide professional development to support school leaders in meeting the academic, social and emotional health needs of their students; and involve school leaders in critical decision making. State and district leaders can also consider how to balance providing direction to school leaders with ensuring school leaders have the autonomy and flexibility to attend to their communities’ singular needs. Similar to the suggested approach above to consider the needs of the future, state and district leaders can use ARP funding to develop the next generation of school leaders and to support <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipelines.aspx">principal pipelines</a> that can both develop talent and diversify the profession. They may also want to evaluate what changes are necessary to existing structures and systems so that future leaders can be prepared to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic.   <br><br></li></ul><ul><li> <em>Regularly revisit plans to analyze impact, identify new needs and continuously improve over time.</em> Recovering from the pandemic and redesigning systems and programs will require ongoing leadership. State and district ARP ESSER plans and strategies should not be viewed as stagnant; instead, they can evolve to meet the needs of students and staff as we progress from reopening to recovery to reinvigorating. By periodically reviewing (and improving) their plans, leaders can help ensure that ARP funds are being used effectively to meet immediate needs, while also evaluating how improvements are aligning to the future. In other words, they can think about the seeds that are planted. To support periodic review efforts, state and district leaders can review data and evidence, consider lessons from implementation and develop feedback mechanisms so that stakeholders are continually engaged and are able to share how funds are (or are not) having the most impact on students’ experiences. It may be helpful for state and district leaders to reevaluate their plans each semester or every six months, at least to make sure that previously identified priorities and interventions are still pertinent to their communities and long-term goals.  </li></ul> <br>American Rescue Plan: Five Things State and District Leaders Need to Know Nowhttps://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/american-rescue-plan-five-things-state-and-district-leaders-need-to-know-now.aspx2021-08-04T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.