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ESSER/GEER Extra, Volume 7

This week's volume of ESSER/GEER Extra includes: a reminder about the three separate eGrants applications for ARP ESSER funds and their deadlines; information about using ARP ESSER funds for Hurricane Ida-related damage; the allowability of using ARP ESSER funds to purchase school library materials; the eligible uses of ARP ESSER funds by entities providing educational programs for delinquent, neglected, and at-risk youth; and the allowability of using ARP ESSER funds to improve cybersecurity.

All editions of ESSER/GEER Extra are archived on PDE's website.

REMINDER: There Are Three Separate ARP ESSER Applications
Given federal reporting requirements, there are THREE SEPARATE eGrants applications for ARP ESSER. To receive your LEA's share of ARP ESSER funds, you must complete and submit all relevant applications in the eGrants system. All applications can be found in eGrants under 2020-21, and deadlines for these applications are noted below. ARP ESSER funds are available for allowable expenditures from March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2024.

The eGrants applications for ARP ESSER are as follows:

  1. 90% of the total ARP ESSER allocation. This $4.5 billion is allocated to school districts and charter schools based on their share of 2020-21 Title I-A funds. There is no specific deadline for school districts and charter schools to submit their applications to PDE via eGrants; however, we encourage school districts and charter schools to apply as soon as possible to maximize the period of fund allowability.
  2. School district and charter school ARP ESSER set-aside. This $350 million is allocated to school districts and charter schools based on their share of 2020-21 Title I-A funds. School districts and charter schools must submit their eGrant applications to PDE by November 29, 2021 (NOTE: This eGrants application is titled: ESSER Fund ARP ESSER 7% Consolidated). These funds must be used for the following purposes, using evidence-based interventions, pursuant to the ARP Act and Act 24 of 2021:
  3. Other LEA ARP ESSER set-aside. This $135 million is allocated through Act 24 to the school entities listed below. There is no specific deadline to submit applications to PDE via eGrants; however, we encourage school entities to submit their applications as soon as possible to maximize the period of fund allowability.

If you have questions about your LEA's ARP ESSER application(s), or are if you are having trouble accessing them in the eGrants system, please reach out to your regional coordinator.

Can ARP ESSER Funds Be Used for Hurricane Ida Relief?
ARP ESSER funds are intended to assist LEAs in preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. To the extent there are activities that are necessary to meet students' needs in response to the pandemic, including needs that have been exacerbated by Hurricane Ida, ARP ESSER funds may be used to cover the costs if the expenditure meets the three-part test for allowability (is there an eligible use under the ARP Act; does the use assist the LEA in preventing, preparing for, or responding to COVID-19; and is the expenditure reasonable and necessary under Uniform Guidance).

For example, Section 2001(e)(2)(O) of the ARP Act allows LEAs to use ESSER funds for "school facility repairs and improvements to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs." If Hurricane Ida caused flood, wind, or other damage to school infrastructure and buildings that would increase the risk of virus transmission, then ESSER funds may be used to cover the costs of activities to reduce that risk. It is important for LEAs to maintain documentation and written justification as to how uses of ESSER funds are related to their COVID-19 response, including where costs are closely associated with Hurricane Ida storm damage.

Importantly, LEAs experiencing damage related to Hurricane Ida should determine what costs can be covered by insurance or with funding received through FEMA's Public Assistance program prior to using ARP ESSER funds.

Can LEAs use ARP ESSER funds to purchase school library materials?
Yes. School library materials (e.g., lendable print books, audios, videos), as well as digital content materials and subscriptions, are allowable expenditures of ARP ESSER funds where they meet the three-part test for allowability (is there an eligible use under the ARP Act; does the use assist the LEA in preventing, preparing for, or responding to COVID-19; and is the expenditure reasonable and necessary under Uniform Guidance).

How can educational programs for delinquent, neglected, or at-risk youth use ARP ESSER funds?
An entity providing educational programs for delinquent, neglected, or at-risk youth may use its ARP ESSER allocation for any eligible use under section 2001(e)(2) of the ARP Act. This includes everything from addressing learning loss, to purchasing educational technology, cleaning, or other supplies, and even conducting facility repairs and improvements to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards. The entity will need to ensure that the proposed use of the ARP ESSER funds meets the three-part test for allowability.

May ARP ESSER funds be used to improve cybersecurity?
Yes. If an LEA is improving cybersecurity to better meet educational and other needs of students related to preventing, preparing for, or responding to COVID-19, it may use ARP ESSER funds for this purpose. For example, if an LEA needs to increase its use of technology, such as for potential temporary shifts to virtual learning if COVID-19 cases arise, the LEA can use ARP ESSER funds to implement or enhance cybersecurity to facilitate that activity provided that the expenditure meets the three-part test for allowability.

Send Us Your Feedback!
Is ESSER/GEER Extra useful and responsive to your needs? Please send feedback, questions, and ideas for future editions to us via email: ra-edarpesser@pa.gov. And don't forget to send us your school entity's ESSER/GEER implementation successes so we can highlight them.