Procedures for Ensuring LEA Maintenance of Equity (MOEquity)
Section 2004 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act) includes new maintenance of equity (MOEquity) provisions that are a condition for local educational agencies (LEAs) to receive funds under the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. It requires school districts to maintain both fiscal and staffing equity across all schools, particularly in an LEA's lowest-income quartile of schools, for both 2021-22 and 2022-23. LEAs that meet any one of the following criteria are automatically excepted from the MOEquity requirements:
- Enrolls fewer than 1,000 students.
- Operates a single school.
- Serves all students within each grade span with a single school.
Other options are a LEA can request an exception from the United States Department of Education (USDE) because of an "exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance".
USDE is also offering a limited exception to MOEquity for the 2021-2022 fiscal year if an LEA certifies "that it did not and will not implement an aggregate reduction in combined State and local per-pupil funding in FY 2022 [school year 2021-2022] (i.e., is not facing overall budget reductions)." This exception covers both the fiscal equity and staffing equity requirements. This is a one-year exception and LEAs must certify to this each year.
LEAs that are not excepted for one or more of the reasons listed above are subject to the local MOEquity provisions. The purpose of these provisions is to ensure that essential resources are being used to meet the needs of students who have faced longstanding opportunity gaps in the U.S. education system. The local MOEquity provisions contain two parts, a fiscal requirement, and a staffing requirement. The fiscal requirement ensures that LEAs do not disproportionally reduce State and local per-pupil funding in the schools identified as "high poverty" for these purposes relative to all other schools they operate. Similarly, the staffing requirement ensures that LEAs do not disproportionately reduce the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff per pupil in their "high poverty" schools relative to all other schools they operate.
PDE, with the assistance of a contractor, will be providing ongoing monitoring of LEAs beginning in Fall 2022. The objective of these monitoring activities is to assess performance towards program objectives and an evaluation of compliance towards program requirements. These monitoring visits will be consistent with applicable federal laws, regulations, and guidance, including but not limited to the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR §200), where applicable. Monitoring visits will be conducted virtually or on-site and a request for information will be required from the LEAs 7 days prior to the start of the monitoring visit. LEAs that are not excepted from LEA-MOEquity requirements will be considered at a higher risk.
Observations, risks, and recommendations will be provided to the LEA after the monitoring visit. Areas for improvement that require a LEA's follow-up are required within 30 days of the date of the notification letter. Leading practice recommendations that do not require follow-up but are provided for the LEA's benefit will also be included.
Corrective action plans will contain the LEA's plans to implement the recommendations listed as well as scheduled dates of implementation and the names of responsible parties. The LEA can also include a detailed response and plan for an alternative solution to address the observations reported.