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Record American Rescue Plan Funding for Schools ($13.6B): How Is Your District Planning to Spend It?

Art by Brandie Bowen
Artwork by Brandie Bowen, community organizer, educator, and writer; commissioned by CA Partnership for the Future of Learning

You Have a Right to Participate as Districts Make ESSER III Spending Plans

This fall, we have a unique opportunity to reimagine our schools as places of healing and joy for our young people. School districts are receiving historic one-time COVID relief funds that can be used towards building the racially just, relationship-centered community schools our young people deserve. The biggest pot of those funds, the ESSER III funds, totals $13.6 billion statewide. Now is a critical time to learn more about what your district is doing with those funds.

There’s big money involved:

~$2.5 billion in Los Angeles Unified School District

~$388 million in Fresno Unified School District

~$229 million in San Bernardino City Unified School District

~$212 million in Long Beach Unified School District

~$154 million in Sacramento City Unified School District

~$130 million in Oakland Unified School District

~$73 million in Coachella Valley Unified School District

~$53 million in West Contra Costa Unified School District

~$28 million in San Jose Unified School District

Check out how much funding your district will receive in this spreadsheet.

School districts must adopt ESSER III Expenditure Plans by October 29th explaining how they’ll spend this money over the next three years. And they can’t do it without consulting you!

Plans must explain how districts intend to use ESSER III funds by September 30, 2024 to:

(1) address the academic impact of lost instructional time, and

(2) respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, especially those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with dis/abilities, unhoused students, children in foster care, and migrant students. 

See the Plan template here.

Community Engagement is Required!

Districts must engage the following community members to determine how to spend their ESSER III funds and develop their ESSER III Expenditure Plans: 

  • Students & Families
  • Teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions
  • School and district administrators (including in special education)
  • Tribes (where present) 
  • Civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations) and 
  • Representatives of children with dis/abilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students.

Check out this infographic on the ESSER III Expenditure Plan here [English, Spanish]!

What must ESSER III funds be used for?

20% of ESSER III Funds must be used toward proven strategies to address the impact of lost instructional time. What could this look like?

80% of ESSER III Funds are flexible for most education uses. 

What could this look like? 

  • Academic, social emotional and mental health supports, especially for most impacted students
  • Public health and COVID safety measures
  • Educational technology
  • School and building repairs and improvements 
  • Preventing staffing cuts
  • …and more!

Ask Your District:

  • Have you drafted your ESSER III Expenditure Plan yet? If so, can you post the draft online for community members to review?
  • What investments do you plan to make with these funds and why? When will you start spending these funds?
  • How much of this funding is being used for new services or positions versus continuing existing services or positions?
  • When and how are you planning to get feedback from students, family, staff, and other required community members on this plan?
  • How will you ensure that the funds will be distributed equitably to address the needs of the most impacted students and families?
  • What metrics will you use to evaluate the impact of investments made with these funds and how will you report publicly on their effectiveness over time?
  • Will you commit to engage with the community before making any material revisions to the ESSER III Expenditure plan in the future? 

If we invest these funds now in strategic ways that focus on culture and systems change, we can create racially just community schools where students feel supported to succeed far beyond this pandemic.

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