American Rescue Plan Act of 2021's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds
ARP ESSER III, which are federal COVID-19 stimulus relief funds, provides a total of nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. In addition to ARP ESSER III, the ARP Act includes $3 billion for special education, $2.75 billion to support non-public schools, and additional funding for homeless children and youth.
The U.S. Department of Education has made $3.8 billion in ARP ESSER III funds available to the Georgia Department of Education. On March 25, the State Board of Education approved State School Superintendent Richard Woods' recommendation to begin the allocation of the funds to school districts.
According to a U.S. Department of Education fact sheet about the use of ARP ESSER III funds, school districts are required to set aside at least 20 percent of the funds to "address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions and ensure that those interventions respond to students’ social, emotional, and academic needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups (each major racial and ethnic group, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, gender, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care)."
Remaining legal education agency funds are flexible and may be used to support other programs within the district for at-risk student populations, distance or remote learning, school meals, mental and physical health, supplemental learning and addressing learning loss, facilities and equipment, continuity of core staff and services, and more.
The ARP ESSER III funds are allocated based on a district's proportionate share of Title I funding. For example, if a school district received two percent of Georgia's overall share of Title I funding in Fiscal Year 2021, they will receive two percent of the ARP allocation. This funding formula is required by federal law.