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A Refresher on ESSER Funds

A Refresher on ESSER Funds

Dear BPS Community,

We wanted to respond to some questions relative to how the district utilized funds received as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

Below, please find a refresher on the ESSER Fund and how it was used in the Brockton Public Schools.

-          The purpose of the ESSER Fund was to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.

-          In accordance with ESSER III requirements, the district conducted a survey in fall 2021 in which we asked all members of our community to share how they'd like to see those funds utilized. More than 1,000 people responded and you can review the responses here.

-          The district used the survey responses to inform its ESSER Implementation Plan which is available here.

-          The number one request from survey respondents was that we use ESSER funds to make facilities improvements to ensure safe and healthy school environments. The district spent millions on upgrading HVAC systems, adding air purifiers to every classroom and common area, installing plexiglass partitions, and making personal protective equipment (PPE) widely available.

-          The largest and most transformative purchase we were able to make with ESSER funds was the purchase of thousands of laptops to make BPS a 1:1 school district, meaning that we had enough laptops for each student. Additionally, the district purchased MIFI devices, headphones and other necessary technology to support students during the remote and hybrid learning periods.

-          To address the social emotional needs of our students, the district established accelerated learning programs, partnered with community groups, funded professional development in social emotional learning and equity, diversity and inclusion, purchased new curricula, and offered free virtual tutoring.

-          Since ESSER will end next year, any employee positions funded via ESSER would need to be absorbed by the district’s annual budget, known as the local budget, in the following years. The district therefore could not use ESSER to fund employee positions.

-          The district received prior authorization from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the federal government for all purchases made with ESSER funds. The district required approval to ensure all purchases were in line with funding guidelines. The district’s reputation for good financial governance has an impact on its ability to receive any future grant funding. Therefore, the district worked with an outside auditing firm throughout the ESSER implementation period to ensure that the funds were being appropriately allocated.

This district belongs to the people of Brockton and you deserve transparent and open communication. While all of the aforementioned information is publicly available on our website and has been addressed numerous times at School Committee meetings, we understand that it has not been consistently discussed since we first made our ESSER plan in 2021 and it is worth revisiting.

The ESSER III page on bpsma.org is full of public resources. We welcome any questions you might have and encourage you to email superintendent@bpsma.org.

Thank you,

Mayor Robert F. Sullivan and Superintendent Mike Thomas

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