In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was established as a stimulus bill in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the CARES Act, $30.75 billion was set aside for an Education Stabilization Fund. Of this amount, 43.9% was allocated to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Colorado was given $120,993,782 for distribution to local educational agencies (LEAs) such as Littleton Public Schools.
Littleton Public Schools (LPS) has been granted federal funding through ESSER to address the impacts of COVID-19 on our students. ESSER I funds totaled $346,895 and addressed the early, immediate crisis. This funding was put towards personal protective equipment (PPE), water bottle filling stations, and payroll costs for Nutrition Services and the Extended Daycare program. These programs were able to continue in spite of a lack of revenue. A portion of the funding was also allocated to charter schools and non-public schools within LPS boundaries.
ESSER II and ESSER III address the longer-term impacts of COVID-19. LPS has received $1,412,716 and $3,175,006, respectively, as part of these two funds. ESSER II is focused on managing the health crisis and on bringing stability back to the classroom. LPS offered a survey to parents prior to the 2020-2021 school year and found that, of the nearly 4,000 survey responses, 74% of LPS parents wanted their children to return to in-person learning. The focus of this funding includes charter school allocations, air quality sensors, HVAC projects, and air handling units to support the safe return to the classroom for in-person learning.
ESSER III focuses on a wide range of long-term needs arising from the pandemic such as safely reopening schools as well as the social, emotional, mental, and academic needs resulting from the pandemic. As part of this spending, LPS has hired a counselor to assist with mental health and substance abuse issues that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. This counselor is providing district-wide services including social work support for students such as mental health services, case management, academic counseling, home visits, etc. The counselor also provides specific substance abuse assessment and intervention for students with addiction concerns and an alternate-to-suspension group for student who have gotten in trouble for a substance abuse incident along with their parents.
To address any potential learning loss, LPS is using ESSER III funding to pay for the 2021 and 2022 summer school program. The summer school program in 2023 may be covered as well. The ESSER III funding covers the costs of teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, and instructional supplies and materials. The impact of the summer school programs on students will be studied to compare and contrast those that attended summer school and those that did not. Lastly, LPS is using ESSER III funding to hire an audio/visual technician to support expanded use of technology in the classroom.
In response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the federal government provided supplemental funding to the states.
Three federal stimulus funding acts became law in response to COVID-19.
Each law included funding for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Colorado’s allocation was appropriated to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).
CDE then allocated ESSER funds to individual school districts based on the Title I formula. Ten percent of the total funds were reserved for state-level activities.
LPS received the following ESSER allocations under each act:
ESSER I and ESSER II expenditures include the following:
ARP requires local educational agencies that receive ESSER III funds to request stakeholder input on how ESSER III funds will be used to:
Note: 20% of ESSER III funds must be used to address learning loss that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learning Loss – LPS used ESSER III funds to pay for the 2021 summer school program. The district plans to pay for summer school in 2022 and possibly in 2023.
Mental Health – the district added a counselor to assist with mental health/substance abuse issues exacerbated by COVID-19.
Technology Support – the district will add an audio/visual technician to support expanded use of technology in the classroom.
Safe In-Person Learning – improve air quality by updating HVAC systems in facilities where needed.
Charter Schools – allocate funds on a per-pupil basis to Littleton Academy and Littleton Preparatory.
Other expenditures – LPS prefers to utilize a districtwide approach for its remaining ESSER III funds.
The Bottom Line:
The ESSER III supplemental funding has been established to provide support and services specific to special education (SPED) students. LPS has been allocated funding to address the needs of SPED students that will be shared amongst the district and the two charter schools -- Littleton Preparatory and Littleton Academy -- by providing a summer school program in 2022 to address the learning loss experienced due to COVID-19.