Online tool shows schools use of COVID-19 relief funds

The Georgia Department of Education has developed an ESSER Funding Dashboard that will provide the public with a simple and transparent way to view Georgia school districts’ use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The dashboard is available on GaDOE’s COVID-19 Resource Site and allows the public to see the amount of ESSER funds a school district has received, the amount of approved submitted budgets, and the time remaining in the grant period.

“We are committed to using COVID-19 relief funds to improve student learning, address lost learning opportunities and support student mental health and well-being,” the school superintendent said public Richard Woods. “We’re also committed to being transparent when funds are spent, and this ESSER funding dashboard provides a clear and easy way for the public to access that information. ”

School districts in Georgia received three rounds of funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund – through the CARES Act in May 2020, the Supplementary Appropriations for Emergency Response and Relief Act, coronavirus in January 2021 and the US bailout in March 2021. The dashboard shows spending under the three ESSER funding rounds.

Funds distributed to school districts total $ 5,938,770,343. Twenty percent of the third round of funding is to be used to address student learning loss. The rest of the funds are flexible and can be used to support at-risk student populations, distance / distance learning, school meals, mental and physical health, additional learning, facilities and equipment, and continuity of staff and basic services.

GaDOE is also working with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to examine the use of ESSER funds in Georgia to disseminate best practices statewide. The project will run until June 2025 and the objectives are to:

• Understand how districts use federal relief funds and the impact they have on district practice and, if possible, on students.

• Generate knowledge and lessons learned on student support strategies – academic and non-academic – deployed by districts, with emphasis on those that strengthen staff and organizational capacities, leverage internal and community resources and are integrated into district practice to maximize sustainability.

• Display information on the factors that influence the selection and implementation of support strategies, which may include district capacity, changes in leadership, external constraints or community contribution.

• Identify compelling stories from Georgian schools about the impact of the pandemic on students and how educators are meeting their needs.

• Provide a shared learning network for community leaders to learn from each other and share best practices already underway in the State of Georgia through the rural learning networks established by GPEE.

The project will include surveys of all school districts in 2022, 2023 and 2024 to gather information on their use of federal COVID-19 relief funds; interviews with stakeholders to take a closer look at the issues identified in the survey; develop case studies with in-depth analysis of the use and impact of funds; and panel discussions, briefings and stakeholder presentations to highlight best practices and what is working in Georgia school districts.

“The partnership is eager to conduct this study to understand how Georgia school districts are leveraging ESSER funds to improve student learning in these unprecedented times,” said GPEE President Dr Dana Rickman. “Ultimately, this information will help inform national and local policies and provide a shared learning network to support all districts. ”

The ESSER dashboard can be accessed at www.georgiainsights.com/esser-budget.html. GaDOE’s COVID-19 resource site is available at www.georgiainsights.com/coronavirus.html.

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