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ESSER Funds

 

Under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER), established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136 (March 27, 2020), and further funded under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260 (December 27, 2020) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, Pub. L. No. 117-2 (March 11, 2021), the U.S. Department of Education (Department) awarded grants to State educational agencies (SEAs) for the purpose of providing local educational agencies (LEAs) that receive funds under part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), including charter schools that are LEAs, with emergency relief funds to address the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the Nation.

 

Generally, in determining whether an activity is an allowable use of funds, an LEA must determine:

  • Is the use of funds intended to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students?
  • Does the use of funds fall under one of the authorized uses of ESSER funds?
  • Is the use of funds permissible under the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance, 2 CFR Part 200)? In particular, is it necessary and reasonable for the performance of the ESSER award?

 

Allowable activities and guidance documents for ESSER programs can be found on DESE’s COVID Relief Webpage.

 

Unallowable Activities

LEAs may not expend ESSER funds on the activities listed below.

  1. Bonuses, merit pay or similar expenditures, unless related to disruptions or closures related to COVID-19;
  2. Subsidizing or offsetting executive salaries and benefits of individuals who are not LEA employees;
  3. Expenditures related to state or local teacher or faculty unions or associations; or
  4. Activities and or purchases religious in nature are not allowable with these funds.

 

Bonuses, Stipends, and Extra-Duty Pay

Several Missouri constitutional provisions prohibit extra compensation to be paid to public employees. In addition, the Teacher Tenure Act, case law, and Opinions of the Attorney General provide that in Missouri, it is unlawful to give bonuses to public employees. When an LEA wants to compensate an employee for extra work beyond an employee’s regular contract, then the LEA must develop written documentation beforehand that indicates the extra work to be performed, the date(s) of performance, and the amount or rate to be paid to the employee. A written agreement, if established, must also be signed by a representative of the LEA and the employee to show the acceptance of the terms. If an LEA plans to pay compensation for work beyond an employee’s regular contract, proper processes must be in place to document the extra work performed. In addition, if paid with federal funds, the employee must complete time and effort documentation that supports the extra work beyond the employee’s regular contract. This documentation could be a semi-annual time certification or monthly personnel activity reports.

 

LEAs should consult their legal counsel with any questions about these provisions.

 

Supplement Not Supplant

ESSER funds do not include a supplement not supplant provision, these funds may take the place of state or local funds for an allowable activity and if the funds are used to prevent, prepare for, or respond to COVID-19.  LEAs should ensure when replacing state or local funds with ESSER funds, that Maintenance of Effort (MOE) or match requirements for other federal programs are still met.

 

Incentives

Costs of goods or services for personal use are not allowable expenditures with federal funds.

 

Capital Outlay Expenditures

All capital outlay costs paid with federal funds must have prior approval by DESE through the budget application process. This includes equipment and non-equipment. Equipment is defined as tangible, personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $1,000 or more per unit. Acquisition cost for equipment is defined as the net invoice price of the equipment, including the cost of any modifications, attachments, accessories or auxiliary apparatus necessary to make it usable for the purpose for which it was acquired. Non-equipment is defined as construction, renovation, purchase of real estate, or purchase of vehicles.

 

Payment Process

Funds received under ESSER must be a reimbursement. LEAs can request reimbursement through a payment request in ePeGS and/or for ESSER I by completing a payment request on DESE’s COVID Relief Webpage. An ESSER budget must be submitted by the LEA and approved by DESE before reimbursement can be requested for these funds.

 

ESSER I

ESSER I is the only ESSER program with an equitable share portion required. Funds must be obligated by September 30, 2022. Final payment requests must be submitted by October 31, 2022.  DESE will pay ESSER I under Revenue Code 5424. These funds can be placed in the General (Incidental), Special Revenue (Teachers), or Capital Projects Fund. Code all expenditures associated with these funds with a Project Code 42400 and Source Code of 4. Funds received should be directly recorded into the fund for which the qualifying expenditure is paid. (165.011, RSMo.)

 

ESSER II

ESSER II funds must be obligated by September 30, 2023. Final Expenditure Reports must be submitted by

October 31, 2023.  DESE will pay ESSER II revenue under Revenue Code 5423. These funds can be placed in the General (Incidental), Special Revenue (Teachers), or Capital Projects Fund. LEAs will code indirect costs with project code 42300 and source code 4 as well. 

 

Funds received should be directly recorded into the fund for which the qualifying expenditure is paid. (165.011, RSMo.)

 

ESSER III

ARP ESSER (ESSER III) funds must be obligated by September 30, 2024. Final Expenditure Reports must be submitted by October 31, 2024.  LEAs must reserve at least 20 percent of 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 LEA funds (funds not reserved to address learning loss) may be used for a wide range of activities to address needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.  Funds must be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

 

LEAs must publish Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (SRCSP) on their websites no later than June 23, 2021.

 

LEAs must submit the ARP ESSER (ESSER III) Application to DESE via Compliance Plans (Federal and State) and ePeGs no later than 90 days after allocations were posted. The current projected application deadline is August 23, 2021.  The ARP ESSER (ESSER III) Plan and Application will be available on July 23. 

 

ARP ESSER (ESSER III) reimbursements will not be available to LEAs until the State Legislature has appropriated the ARP ESSER (ESSER III) funds.  There is currently no established timeline for these appropriations.

 

DESE will pay ARP – Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III) revenue under Revenue Code 5422. These funds can be placed in the General (Incidental), Special Revenue (Teachers), or Capital Projects Fund. LEAs must code all expenditures associated with these funds with Project Code 42200 –ARP – Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund – (ESSER III) and Source Code of 4.

 

Funds received should be directly recorded into the fund for which the qualifying expenditure is paid. (165.011, RSMo.)

 

ESEA Finance - federalfinancial@dese.mo.gov

For application, payment and general questions