While the ESSER funds have certainly been a great boon for school districts, indications have already emerged that signal the use of these funds could become controversial. A recent Education Week article, The Political Spotlight on Schools’ COVID Relief Money Isn’t Going Away, highlighted the scrutiny of ESSER spending and the potential for Parents’ Bill of Rights to demand more transparency in the use of these funds.
It’s essential that each expenditure be properly documented and aligned to the specific allowable uses of the funds. Noelle Ellerson Ng, the Associate Executive Director of AASA, recommends that superintendents frame their decisions about ESSER funds in the context of student interests, not adult interests. Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edunomics Lab and professor at Georgetown University, recommends that districts communicate to ensure the community sees the value of the investments made with ESSER funds, and keep the focus on connecting spending to goals for students. In addition to tracking the use of funds and aligning them to allowable purposes, Roza recommends including a measure of results or ROI, such as the impact on student progress or well-being. Read more about the 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Spending COVID-Relief Funds.
Also refer to the Texas Education Agency ESSER website for many informative resources: