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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Dear District Administrators,

The Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) approved, with modifications, the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) plan for expending the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund dollars.

Two of the three provisions for schools in the plan remain unchanged. The first, the Title I formula allocation required under federal law for 90 percent of the funds, was approved to move forward and be allocated by DPI. The second, a $100,000 floor for every local education agency (LEA), was also approved. In other words, each LEA is getting $100,000 or their Title I allocation whichever is greater. Those allocations remain unchanged from what DPI proposed and can be seen in the estimated local education agency allocations (columns 3 and 4) that accompanied the plan DPI submitted to the JCF. The ESSER II application will be available in WISEgrants, likely in April, and districts may start budgeting for these funds.

The JCF, under Motion #16, replaced the third component of the plan that had contained a $395 per pupil floor with a formula based on the total number of in-person instructional hours provided during the entirety of the 2020-21 school year. LEAS will no longer receive the $395 per pupil minimum. DPI will instead need to collect information on hours of instruction from eligible LEAs at the conclusion of the school year. Eligible LEAs are the 174 LEAs who were to have received the $395 per pupil under the original DPI plan. The JFC formula is a proportional one and DPI will need to seek clarification on the level at which this data needs to be collected (e.g. student, grade, or school) by the DPI. As a result, instructional designs and closures at any time during the school year may impact the calculation. DPI will be unable to calculate amounts eligible LEAs are set to receive until the data collection is complete, which may take until fall.