PSD receives federal funding for many different needs across the district. Currently, PSD is working on the application for the American Rescue Plan: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, better known as ARP ESSER.
Here are the frequently asked questions often received about federal grants, and ARP ESSER in particular.
This page will be updated as we have additional information. Thank you for your patience!
HOW DO MOST FEDERAL EDUCATION GRANTS WORK?
Once approved by Congress, the US Department of Education (USDE) notifies the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) that funds are available to state and local education agencies through an application process.
This application process requires school districts to apply to CDE and receive CDE approval prior to beginning grant activities. Applications require a detailed description of intended uses that comply with all local, state and federal requirements and a detailed budget. Only complete and compliant applications are approved. Once approval is received, schools enter the spending and reimbursement cycle until all grant funds are expensed.
Most grants require a reimbursement process because it allows for an extra level of oversight. Over the course of the grant period, reimbursements continue until all funds have been expensed.
WHAT IS “ARP ESSER”?
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law by Congress in March of 2021. Included in the ARP Act are funds available to school districts through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER), intended to be used toward school districts' efforts to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This response includes addressing the impact of the pandemic on the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students. These funds are available through a grant referred to as ARP ESSER.
In order to be approved for ARP ESSER grant funding, PSD must meet the following requirements:
- PSD is required to create and share with the public a Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan. (Components of this plan, including Academic Year 2021-2022 COVID Protocols, are already on the PSD website. Additional information will be included as the Plan is finalized).
- PSD is required to submit an application with budget and narrative for CDE approval than must include:
- Activities that are allowable per the US Department of Education
- PSD must complete the Community Stakeholder Engagement process
- PSD must dedicate a minimum of 20% of grant funding received to address the academic impact of lost instructional time for students’ social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs.
WHAT IS THE ARP ESSER APPLICATION TIMELINE?
March 11 American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act signed into law
March 11 Colorado Department of Education informs school districts that ARP ESSER grants will be available
March 17 US Dept. of Education releases ARP ESSER information to CDE, including:
- Letter of program intent;
- Preliminary portion to be assigned to states, and the portion of that amount dedicated to school districts;
- a Fact Sheet describing allowable uses and requiring that: 20% be dedicated to addressing learning loss; and the creation of a “Safe Return to In Person Learning Plan” if one does not already exist.
April 1 CDE releases information to school districts on requirements and processes.
- School districts must submit an application and budget to CDE for approval to receive ARP ESSER funding.
- Grant is reimbursement only.
- School districts can request to cover costs back to 3/13/2020.
- School Districts have 60 days to submit preliminary application to accept funds (May 23). Budget is not required with this preliminary application.
April 15 CDE releases the application deadline of March 24, 2022.
April 22 USDE releases more guidance on ARP ESSER, including addition of School District Stakeholder Engagement requirement
April 29 CDE releases ARP ESSER additional requirements issued by USDE on April 22
May 18 PSD submits application to accept funds and includes preliminary Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan.
May 21 PSD receives application approval for acceptance of funds. Deadline for budget based on date of approval: August 19, 2021.
May 26 USDE releases further defined restrictions, clearer guidance on Return to In-Person Learning Plan and the ARP ESSER Funding Plan, and additional resources for states and school districts
May 27 CDE releases ARP ESSER information issued by USDE on May 26
June 3 CDE announces extension of ARP ESSER application deadlines:
- CDE Application to receive final budget approval: September 30, 2021
- School district final application deadline: December 16, 2021
July 6 PSD begins Community Engagement process.
July 6 - July 20 PSD requests and receives feedback from community stakeholders on use of ARP ESSER funding. Feedback is gathered via survey, emails, internal stakeholder meetings, and virtual forums.
July 20 PSD compiles feedback and posts feedback to PSD website in COVID-19 section.
July 21 PSD staff begins identifying programs, creating budgets, and preparing the application.
August 11 Date this timeline was created
August 18 Deadline for PSD Budget to be submitted for Board of Education review and approval.
August 24 Date the PSD Budget will be presented to the Board of Education.
August 31 Pending Board Approval, deadline to submit application for CDE approval.
Sept. 1-30 Estimated review period by CDE for PSD ARP ESSER application
October 1 PSD Goal to receive budget approval
HOW DID THE DISTRICT CONDUCT COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT?
PSD offered our community stakeholders several ways to share input into how federal funds should be spent:
- Information about ARP ESSER and community engagement opportunities was posted to the PSD website and shared with PSD families, staff and partners. (July 6)
- A Community Survey was sent to parents/guardians, students, and staff, and internal and external affiliated groups. (July 6)
- A dedicated email was created to collect comments. (July 6)
- Two Public Forums on ZOOM were hosted, one in the morning (July 14) and one in the evening (July 20).
- Information was sent to over 30 community partners including City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, United Way, Matthews House, Center for Family Outreach, Foothills Gateway, and other community partners to share with their staff, families, and partners. (July 6 and July 14)
- Meetings were scheduled with internal and external groups, including PSD department leads, principals, the Poudre Education Association, and others.
Information collected from all of these outreach efforts was compiled into a single document that included data collected from the survey; a spreadsheet of most common responses from each collection method; all email and survey comments; and links to view both Public Forums. This document was shared with PSD leadership to help inform all decisions regarding use of COVID funds.
HOW WILL PSD MAINTAIN THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF STUDENTS AND STAFF?
The district continues to work with and follow guidance and orders from public health officials to meet evolving health and safety requirements and to implement district COVID protocols at all schools and sites.
Local and state agencies the district works with include:
- Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
- Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE)
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
- Colorado Governor's Office
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
HOW DOES PSD SET HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS?
All policies set by the District are based solely on public health guidance and regularly scheduled consultations with Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE), local elected officials, schools and sites, and District nurses and health technicians. Approval of PSD’s ARP ESSER budget, or acceptance or approval of any federal funding, is not contingent upon district decisions around masks, testing, contact tracing, vaccines or safety protocols.
DOES ANY OF THE FUNDING PSD RECEIVES FOR COVID RELIEF DEPEND ON HEALTH POLICIES THAT THE DISTRICT HAS SET?
Approval of PSD’s ARP ESSER budget, or acceptance or approval of any federal funding, is not based upon district decisions around masks, testing, contact tracing, vaccines, or safety protocols. All policies set by the District are based solely on public health guidance and regularly scheduled consultations with Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, local elected officials, schools and sites, and District nurses and health technicians.