Using Some of the $13.5B in K12 CARES Act ESSER Funds to Support K12 Parent Engagement


Congress passed the staggering $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that includes the authority for the Secretary of Education to waive certain federal requirements. It also includes about $38 billion in funding for higher education and K-12 education. The Elementary and Secondary School Relief (ESSER) Fund portion of the CARES Act includes $13.5 billion for K-12 education.

CARES Act funds are provided to address issues that have arisen due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is allowable to use these funds to purchase TransACT ParentNotices because the mobile delivery feature of this system allows for the touchless delivery of notifications to parents and family members via the mobile or computer device of their choice. For new and existing customers, it is also allowable to use these funds to pay for the integration of TransACT’s system with a district’s Student Information System (SIS) in order to facilitate notice delivery.

States receive a portion of the ESSER funds based on the current percentage of Title I funds that states receive in comparison to the total amount of Title I funds available. For example, if State X receives 2% of the ESEA Title I funding sent to all states, then it will receive 2% of the ESSER sent to all states. ESSER funds will be sent to the state’s local education agencies (LEAs) using the Title I distribution formula for that state. LEAs are not limited to using these funds in Title I programs only.

The Title I formula is being used to distribute the funds, but it is not all designated as Title I funding. Based on recent guidance (see question 20), these funds are not subject to Title I or other supplanting prohibitions. It is allowable to use ESSER funds for multiple programs under a significant number of education laws, which include:

  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act
  • The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
  • Perkins Career and Technical Education
  • Other purposes related to response coordination, professional development, purchasing technology, buying sanitation supplies, and other activities

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Dr. David Holbrook

About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransACT Communications.