COVID Support Funding


On Aug. 24, 2021, the Poudre School District Board of Education approved PSD's proposed budget for how to spend federal pandemic response funds. The district used community feedback to develop the budget for using ARP ESSER fund dollars, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The proposed budget was submitted to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) for review and to determine which expenditures were allowable.  

After the CDE approved it, PSD received about $15.5 million in ARP ESSER funds in the 2021-22 school year for the safe operation of schools and to address the impact of the pandemic on students.

  • Staff created the budget using internal and external feedback from parents, students, staff members and community partners, as shared through a survey, a direct email address for input, virtual forums and feedback sessions.    
  • No outside agency made decisions or was directly involved in the budget-planning process. PSD leadership used community feedback to craft the final budget that was submitted to the CDE.


Community Input on Relief Money

Community members were given the opportunity to share their thoughts through a survey, by email or during public forums held July 2021. PSD received 1,426 responses to the survey that was open July 6-20.

All community input was evaluated through the lens of allowable costs, as determined by the federal government and CDE. Because the funds are one-time, salary increases or other similar, ongoing costs will not be considered.


Past COVID Funding

Throughout the pandemic, PSD prioritized its use of federal dollars for health and safety, continuation of operations, learning loss, and social and emotional/mental health supports. 

Examples of past spending: Students pick up laptops in a school gym.

  • COVID supplies: Personal protective equipment like masks, shields, gowns, and gloves; sprayers and cleaning supplies; water bottle-filling stations; hand sanitizer; and equipment to facilitate social distancing.
  • Summer learning-loss interventions: Free high school summer school courses; one-on-one tutoring and summer camps; expansion of Camp SOL summer programming; and salaries for busing staff, Custodial and other departments with remote learning and COVID sanitation during school closures.
  • Salaries: PSD Virtual, the100% online option in 2020-21; Child Nutrition staff at emergency feeding sites; in-building substitute teachers
  • Other: Operations of Remote Learning Support Centers to provide a safe space for students to learn while PSD was in remote learning; COVID-19 training; contact tracing services; traffic control during drop-off/pick-up; increased graduation costs; online curriculum and learning services; increased unemployment costs
  • Charter Schools: A portion of funding was allocated to PSD-authorized charter schools based on funded pupil count. Charter schools determined and addressed their COVID- and learning loss-related needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

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. 

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:

  1. 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).
  2. PSD is required to submit an application with budget and narrative for CDE approval than must include:
    1. Activities that are allowable per the US Department of Education
    2.  PSD must complete the Community Stakeholder Engagement process
    3. 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.

How did the district conduct community engagement about this?

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.

Contact Information

Partnerships and Grant Administration
Beth Higgins  |