Federal Funding Update

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

Superintendents and Business Managers,

As I’m sure most of you are aware, on December 21, 2020, congressional leaders approved HR 133A, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was subsequently approved into law by the President on December 27, 2020. In addition to finalizing federal funding budgets for Fiscal Year 2021, the Act also included a COVID-19 relief package, which includes $81.9 billion to Governors, state and local educational agencies, and institutions of higher education to address COVID-19 related expenses and costs. $80.1 billion of this funding is allocated through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020.

The approval of this Act will result in approximately $774 million being awarded to Oregon by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for the Education Stabilization Fund. As with the CARES Act, the ESF funding will be allocated to three specific areas:

  • Governors’ Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund - $42.0 million
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund - $499.2 million
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund - $232.8 million

ODE will once again be the direct recipient of ESSER, and GEER will be under the direct authority of the Governor, of which ODE will administer in accordance to directions of the Governor.

In terms of ESSER, ODE has already received official award notification for the $499.2 million. Department staff are working diligently to ensure we operate in accordance to any changes in the rules and regulations. As before, 90% of these resources, or $449.2 million, will be allocated directly to school districts in the same manner as Title I funding. 9.5% of the funding, or $47.4 million, will be allocated for a state set aside of which a portion will be used to ensure school districts that are exempted from the 90% formula receive funding. This will also include funding for state sponsored charter schools and the Oregon School for the Deaf. The remaining amount of the set aside is yet to be determined; however, there will be resources made available for specialized service programs such as YCEP, JDEP, LTCT, Hospitals, and EI/ECSE. 0.5% of the funding will be used for state administration. 

There are a few small changes that will be incorporated into the grant as directed by the Act.  They are as follows:

  • The 90% formula allocation to school districts will be based on Title I distribution for the 2020-21 school year. The first allocation was based on the 2019-20 school year.
  • USDOE will not require ODE to collect applications from school districts for the 90% share – new resources will be treated as supplement to original award.
  • While treated as a supplement, ODE and school districts will be required to account for the funding sources separately. ODE is currently evaluating how best to address this in either a new grant agreement or grant amendment to the original. New EGMS subgrants will be created to keep old and new funds separate.
  • The eligible use period for these resources are March 13, 2020 to September 30, 2023. The original grant use period expires on September 30, 2022.
  • USDOE is emphasizing the need to expeditiously spend these funds to address current needs arising from the pandemic, particularly as it relates to reopening schools, addressing loss of learning and mental health needs.   
  • Eligible uses are the same as the original grant; however, there are three additional allowable uses for addressing learning loss, preparing schools for reopening, and testing, repairing, and upgrading projects to improve air quality in school buildings.
  • Equitable Services are not required for the new resources; however, it continues as a requirement for the original award.

In terms of awards for the 90% formula and any set aside that will supplement this funding for districts, ODE expects to release a district by district allocation summary by mid next week. At the same time, the Department is already beginning work on the legal document that will be used to officially award funding to districts. Additionally, ODE is working on scheduling a listening session with partners to gain ideas about how best to allocate the remaining set aside funding that isn’t used to supplement the funding formula. There will be more information released on this process next week.

As it relates to GEER funding, we expect approximately $15 million of this funding to be allocated to the Governor very quickly. ODE will be working with the Governor’s Office staff to determine how they wish to proceed on the awarding of these funds. The balance of funds, $27 million, will be reserved for non-public schools in Oregon. Per the Act, ODE will be the required administrator of these funds. We are currently working with the USDOE to better understand how these funds must be administered and more information will be available in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, please reach out to either Rick Crager or Mike Wiltfong.

Thank you,

Colt Gill
Oregon Department of Education Director