According to a recent survey by the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO), one of the top concerns of school business leaders is their ability to support increasing HR, payroll, and other staff-related costs amid the pandemic. By taking advantage of available funding, you can make the necessary tech investments to support your workforce and students.
Tech Funding Sources for K-12 Schools
In addition to funding that becomes available each year—such as federal Title 1 grants and local taxes—recent legislation has created new funding sources to support school operations. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on student learning, there are now many new funding avenues for K-12 schools to explore. Available options include the following:
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Passed on March 27, 2020, the CARES Act provided $13.2 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund. Funds were provided to states for distribution to schools, and were to be used on pandemic response measures, such as planning for school closures and purchasing technology to support online learning. Funds are available to state education agencies (for distribution to schools) until September 2022.
Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA)
Passed on Dec. 27, 2020, the CRRSA provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER II fund. CRRSA ESSER II funds can be used for the same purposes as CARES Act funding and are available until September 2023.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act became law, bringing additional financial support for schools. The new legislation provided over $122 billion in grants to K-12 schools. It also provided $7.2 billion to the federal E-Rate program, which is specifically designed to fund technology purchases that “connect students, teachers, and consumers to jobs, life-long learning, and information.”
Though your school district may have begun receiving ARPA funding in early 2021, the deadline to use funds is 2024. This extended deadline allows you to plan your technology investments and determine which tools will best serve student and employee needs. For example, you may decide to dedicate some ARPA funding to support substitute management and Title 1 time-tracking. You could also invest in time-tracking tech that supports contact tracing and school safety initiatives, such as touchless time clocks with thermal sensors and location-based access permissions.
Non-Pandemic-Related Education Grants
Besides new, pandemic-related legislation, there are other available funding sources. For example, the U.S. Department of Education offers discretionary grants that are awarded based on a competitive process. In addition, Grants.gov offers a searchable database of grants available to both local and state education agencies.
Improve Your School Workforce Management Capability
Along with facing the everyday challenges of meeting student education needs, today’s K-12 districts must find new paths to operational efficiency in a post-pandemic climate. Remote technology solutions are more necessary than ever before, as are tools to streamline employee communication, manage time and attendance and schedule substitutes. By using available funding to implement the best workforce management solutions for your K-12 district, you can make the most out of stimulus benefits and keep your school operations running smoothly.