May 20, 2021

Understanding Arizona’s Federal COVID Relief Funding for K-12 Education

The federal government has made funding available to all states to support COVID relief and recovery efforts. Arizona is receiving an estimated $4 billion to support K-12 education, $800 million for community colleges and universities, and additional funds from discretionary funding the Governor has available.

The K-12 education funding is intended to be used to help with things like addressing learning loss, providing summer enrichment, supporting all students’ social and emotional needs, improving K-12 school facilities to ensure they are safe for in-person learning, direct support for college students, and other uses (see below for additional detail).

What You Need to Know:

  • This funding comes from the passage of three federal laws to support recovery from the COVID pandemic: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. As a result, there are multiple streams of funding coming into the state for COVID relief (see below).
  • The majority of the K-12 funding (90%) will go directly to school districts or charter schools and is allocated based on Title I allocations.
  • There are opportunities for you to be involved in weighing in on how your local school district or charter school uses these funds (read this blog to find out how to engage).
  • The Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction both have discretionary funds available and have started allocating those funds to the community (see how the funds have been allocated below).
  • This federal funding is one-time and has a limited shelf life for its use, with end dates ranging from 2022 – 2024.

What are the Funding Streams & How Can they be Used?

  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER)
    • ESSER I – $277M and ESSER II – $1.14B – The funds are flexible, and are designed to help address local relief, prevention and preparation, and recovery efforts relative to responding to COVID. Funds can also be used to address learning loss, for school facilities repair, and to improve air quality in schools 90% of funds go directly to LEAs based on each LEA’s proportionate share of Title I-A funds received in FY20 (SY19-20).
    • ESSER III – $2.6B Funds are more restricted and must be focused on evidence-based strategies that respond to students’ academic and social/emotional needs, and address COVID’s disproportionate impact on racial groups, low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant, homeless, and students in foster care. Schools must develop a safe return to instruction plan and seek public comment on the plan. LEAs must also post their plans to use the funds on their website and must engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders that provides input to be used in the plans.
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) – September 2020 – $19M – The funds are to be used to provide additional support to K-12 and Higher Education institutions that have been most significantly impacted by COVID-19.
  • Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools – (EANS) I – $54.4M and EANS II – $54.4M These funds are intended to provide services or assistance to eligible non-public schools. ADE is administering these funds on behalf of the Governor’s Office.
  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) I – $4.2M and ARP II $12.7M Homeless Children and Youth – The purpose of these funds is to identify homeless children and youth, provide wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide assistance to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and participate fully in school activities, including in-person instruction this spring and upcoming summer learning and enrichment programs.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding – $54M – Funding is to be used for special education grants, grants for preschool children with disabilities, and early intervention services.

How has the funding been allocated to date?

Arizona Department of Education

The vast majority (90%) of the funds ADE receives will go directly to LEAs and will be allocated based on Title I funds received. Read more about the allocations made to LEAs to date. A third round of funding to LEAS will be available in late May 2021.

Additionally, ADE has set-aside funding available, and has used it to make investments in a number of priorities, including supporting teachers, access to technology, adding 140 school counselor positions, supporting equity, and postsecondary access. Read more about the set-aside allocations made to date.

ADE also used discretionary dollars to ensure that every nonprofit LEA receives at least $150,000 in base funding, with $175,000 for rural school districts and charters and $200,000 for the most remote school districts and charters.

ADE is also engaging the Equitable and Effective Schools Taskforce, comprised of community members, that will provide input into how the department will use other COVID relief dollars to support students’ needs and underrepresented students.

Governor’s Office

The Governor’s Office has announced a series of investments to support education, including the following:

  • In August 2021, the Governor allocated:
    • $163M for the Education Plus Up Grant program. The funding will go to LEAs “following all state laws and remaining open for in-person instruction as of August 27 and throughout the remainder of the school year.” The funding will go to eligible LEAs who received less than $1,800 per student under ESSER I-III or ESG.
    • $10M to provide “choice for parents who are facing financial and educational barriers due to unnecessary closures and school mandates and that are not in compliance with the provisions set forth in state law.”
    • $65M for the following programs: $12 million for Goodwill Excel Centers, $5 million for the Elevated Education Teen Victory Program, $1.6 million to establish a local group of the Leading Men Fellowship in Arizona, $1.5 million for evidence-based literacy coaching through Amira Learning, $3.5 million to develop 50 microschools, in partnership with the Black Mother’s Forum, $2.7 million for Junior Achievement of Arizona, $2 million for Earn2Learn, $1 million for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University
  • As a part of the state budget process, the Governor announced at the end of June that the following investments would be made using COVID relief funding:
    • $10M for transportation grants, $6.2M over two years for literacy coaches, $6M for two years for A for Arizona’s Expansion and Innovation Fund, $3M over two years for a kindergarten entry evaluation, $2.6M over two years for to identify and support dyslexic students, $2M over two years to fund the cost for teachers to take the Foundations of Reading exam, $2M for CTE certification exams, $2M over two years for the Arizona Personalized Learning Network, $1M over two years for the Alternative Teacher Development Program, and $800K over two years for Jobs for Arizona Graduates.

Other Resources:

If you’d like to learn more, or dig into the details, check out these resources: