• Overview of Federal Funds: Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)

    The federal government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with multi-billion dollar initiatives to support public education across the country during the health crisis. The stimulus funding for schools to contend with the impact of the pandemic was termed Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and there were three rounds of funding between March 2020 and March 2021.

Overview of Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Federal Funds ESSER I, II, III
  • *Totals are projected balance after pass through and other allocation requirements per federal and state relief guidelines as of February 2024.

  • The projected overall ESSER funding awarded to the District and its partners is almost $115 million. There is approximately $36.3 million in remaining funds to invest as a response to the impact and subsequent recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    When CARES Act (ESSER I) funding became available to support and maintain operations, the District’s initial investment focus was to address immediate and urgent needs. ESSER I funded preparations for hybrid learning, health-related materials and supplies such as masks, contracts with agencies to sanitize buildings, funding at the emergency operations center and planning/ materials for home learning.

    CRRSA (ESSER II) funding was used to get schools ready for in-person learning; funds were utilized for facility upgrades like Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, building modifications and classroom modifications. The funding was also used to ensure there was enough personal protective equipment for in-person learning.

    As the pandemic continued, additional needs surfaced and additional federal relief was appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA or ESSER III). To further enhance the approach to prioritizing this third round of ESSER funding, under guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, in 2022-23 the District leveraged the feedback from our Student Investment Account community engagement. In 2019, PPS engaged many diverse groups of community stakeholders to design our Student Investment Account (SIA) plan and garnered tremendous community feedback. Additionally, the District engaged in targeted community outreach (including incarcerated youth, migrant community and RESJ community partners) to inform and reaffirm investment priorities. As a result, in 2022-23 Portland Public Schools braided SIA and ESSER funds for pandemic needs that manifested across five general areas:

    • Facility projects,
    • Technology initiatives,
    • Social, emotional and mental health services,
    • Safe operation of schools,
    • Addressing student learning needs

    In budget preparation for 2023-24, the District conducted further additional needs assessments and community engagement, including sessions with Migrant Education families, District Student Council, Indian Education, Black families, Special Education families and staff, among other focal groups. These engagements informed investment decisions for various sources, including ESSER. Additional detail on the budget preparation process is available in the District’s Integrated Grant (includes SIA) application.

    The ESSER plan in 2023-24 includes direct investments at schools, including:

    • Learning Acceleration Specialists to support reading and math for Black and Native students (20 FTE)
    • Professional development/curriculum ($7.55 million)
    • Instructional summer programming ($4 million)
    • Gun Violence Prevention (summer programming) ($300k)
    • RESJ summer partner contracts and SUN Supports ($2.6 million)
    • Evening Scholars and High School Credit Recovery (3.75 FTE)

    Additionally, ESSER dollars will be used for School Based Improvement Grants. This investment is approximately $9 million and is allocated directly to schools. The investment provides flexibility for schools to address achievement gaps. Activities could include: professional development, targeted intervention for a focal set of students and staff for academic support.

    As the District learned more about the impact of COVID-19, and balanced sustainable investments with these one-time funds, PPS has continuously engaged with communities to learn more about pandemic needs in order to further align our ongoing resources with our strategic plan, Forward Together, and Board goals, so that we may emerge stronger from the pandemic.

Projected ESSER Investment Plan Through September 2024

Projected ESSER Investment Plan Through September 2024
  • *Totals are projected balance after pass through and other allocation requirements per federal and state relief guidelines as of February 2024.