Smart Schools Roundtable: June Session Indiana


For the June session of Fanning Howey’s Smart Schools Roundtable, we heard from two separate speakers for Indiana and Ohio. For Indiana, Cole Dietrich from the state’s Department of Education joined us to discuss how the third round of ESSER Funding could impact Indiana schools.


2021 ESSER III Funding

With the third round of ESSER funding rolling out, there are a few additional requirements for schools that apply and receive funding.

  • Grantees must reserve 20% of their ESSER III allocation for addressing learning loss through evidence-based interventions (afterschool, extended learning time, accelerating learning) that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs, including special populations.
  • Within 30 days of receiving funds, grantees must offer for public comment and post on their websites a plan to return to in-person instruction. -Must include public comment and demonstrate that this was taken into account -Grantees may use previous plans that meet these requirements -See additional guidance on requirements regarding return to in-person instruction plans.
  • Maintenance of Equity (MEQ). We are awaiting guidance, but LEAs must not disproportionately underfund nor understaff (FTEs) high-poverty schools.
  • The ESSER III application will include the following elements that are required by the US Department of Education:
    • LEAs will assure that they have sought meaningful consultation from stakeholder groups in the development of their ESSER III plan;
    • Describe how the LEA will comply with CDC recommended mitigation strategies to reopen schools and maintain their safe operating status;
    • Describe how the LEA will use the 20% set-aside to address learning loss through evidence-based extended school day or school year programs, afterschool programs, or summer programs; and
    • Describe how the LEA will target the evidence-based interventions to support students who are underserved or were most significantly impacted by COVID-19.

One of the major updates coming with the ESSER III funds is the return to in-person instruction plan. Requirements include the following:

  • An LEA must include specific information that addresses how it will maintain student and staff health and safety and how it will ensure continuity of services for academic and social-emotional needs, as well as how it meets CDC guidance, to the extent practicable.
  • The plan must be updated no less than every six months and must include public input when revisions are necessary. If an LEA already has a plan in place that doesn’t meet the new requirements, it must revise the plan within six months.
  • The plan for safe return to public instruction should be clear, in a uniform format, and available to all, which may require written or oral translations for non-English speakers or providing the document in an accessible format for individuals with disabilities.

Important dates to qualify for ESSER III funds:

ESSER III Anticipated Application Due Date: June 25
Date to post return to in-person instruction plans: No later than June 24, 2021.