Can Title III Funds Be Used To Pay Educator Salaries?


Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes a fiscal restriction called ‘Supplement not Supplant’ that includes federal, state, and local funds and laws. This means that if there is a federal, state, or local law that requires EL related programs, services, activities, or expenditures, then Title III funds cannot be used to pay for the things required by other laws. 

In this blog, the term “core EL Program” will refer to the Civil Rights required services to help ELs attain English proficiency and acquire content knowledge (aka – access academic content). 

Title III funds are provided to school districts to supplement the core EL program that districts are required to provide to English Learners (ELs).

This means that Title III funds cannot pay for programs and services a district implements to meet Civil Rights requirements and state or local laws. A district must fully implement its core EL program, and Title III funds can only add programs or services not required elsewhere. 

Can Title III funds be used to pay for salaries for teachers teaching in a core EL program for “class-size reduction”? 

No, this is not an allowable use of Title III funds. Even though the teaching staff will technically “supplement” the available teaching staff, because the services that they would provide are part of the Civil Rights required core EL program, Title III funds cannot be used. Also, Title III funds cannot pay teacher salaries if those teachers are providing services to meet state or local requirements. 

Can Title III funds be used to pay for educator salaries? 

Yes – But only under very specific circumstances. The following two conditions are necessary for Title III funds to be an allowable expenditure for an educator’s salary. 

  1. The educator cannot provide any services that are part of the district’s core EL program or are required by state or local law. 
  2. The educator’s job description must be different from the job description of educators working in the district’s core EL program. 

For example, a district could hire an EL teacher to provide the Title III allowable service of "intensified instruction" (ESSA, Sec. 3115(d)(3)(B)). His or her job description would need to provide a description of the services being provided and those services must not overlap with the district's Civil Rights required core EL program. In addition, the job descriptions for the district's teachers working in the Civil Rights core EL program must be different than the teacher providing the intensified instruction services.

All other prohibitions regarding the use of Title III funds still apply. For example, Title III funded bilingual educators cannot have as part of their job description the duty to translate general education communications sent to all parents in the district or school. This prohibition is because Title III funds can only pay for translation of communications that are a direct result of the Title III program. 

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.