Despite recent positive signs of academic recovery, the plans that administrators have for spending the rest of their ESSER funds prove some students are still struggling.
Learning loss is the No. 1 target of ESSER II and III relief as the deadline looms later this year. Technology and broadband investments and mental health services are next in the top three, according to a survey just released by The Association of School Business Officials International.
“As district leaders step up to the plate and seize the opportunities provided by ESSER, they are focusing on what matters most: student learning and well-being,” ASBO International Executive Director James Rowan says.
“The challenge now is to sustain the progress made under ESSER once these funds end. We need strong local, state, and federal support for public education to continue doing what’s needed for our students,” he adds.
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The survey also asked about the biggest influences on K12 leaders’ spending decisions. The top three are:
- Rising student mental, social-emotional and behavioral needs.
- Financial sustainability and avoiding a fiscal cliff.
- Declining test scores, scope of learning loss or other evidence indicating the need for academic intervention.
The most popular strategy for tackling learning loss is an expansion of summer school enrichment. Administrators are most often investing in social-emotional learning programs to better serve student mental health. School counselors, psychologists, therapists, and nurses are the most common new positions being funded by ESSER.
The most popular strategy for tackling staff shortages was expanding professional development and recommitting to the retention of classroom teachers and support staff.