K-12 School Reopening Trends

April 18, 2022

For more detail on Burbio's dataset, please email dennis@burbio.com

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Where We Are Now

This is Dennis from Burbio.  Below is our weekly update.  Feel free to share. 

This week we look at current ESSER III spending reimbursement levels across the US, as well as examples of teacher retention programs.   

To receive a sample detailed data set of 125 districts' ESSER III plans featuring $3 billion of allocations sign up at our ESSER III page. 

Burbio School Opening Tracker 

Burbio ESSER III Spending Tracker

Burbio School Mask Policy Tracker

Trends and Observations

  • In the Spring of 2021 the Federal government authorized $122 billion in stimulus funds termed "ESSER III '' for "Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief,'' allocated on the basis of Title I. Ninety percent of the funding goes directly to local districts.  Burbio has tabulated over $74 billion in planned spending for 3,900+ districts covering 65% of US K-12 public school enrollment.

Districts have three years to spend the funds.  Disclosure of what has been spent has begun to appear on a handful of state-level reporting systems based on school district level submissions for reimbursements.  Later this Spring we also expect to discover ESSER spending disclosures as we examine district budget documentation which will supplement our ongoing analysis in this area. 

The initial disclosures indicate the amount of spending but generally do not provide detail of what the money has been spent on, and also reflect a time-lag due to the reporting periods.  

  • Below is the percentage of spending at the state level in states with trackers:
  • We have been able to "match" over 2,300 districts across the above states to NCES codes to be able to classify them by size and type.    First, a chart that shows the current level of expenditure based on district size:
  • This chart breaks down spending percentages by locale:

We will continue to add to this analysis over the coming weeks and will be incorporating it into it into business intelligence products we will be introducing that cover both ESSER III spending as well as ongoing US K-12 spending.

  • Staffing issues have been a major issue across the country over the past year, and this week we highlight retention plans from ESSER III plans from eleven states:

  • Jonesboro School District, AR ($20.6MM) will be spending $4.8MM on "Additional Pay:  COVID-19 related expenditures related to preventing disruptions and closures.  Recruitment and retention of a diverse and qualified educator workforce." 
  • Alum Rock Union Elementary School District, CA  ($22.5MM) will be spending just under $18MM on  "Staff recruitment, support and retention/ Costs related to providing direct support to students."  Of the total, $8.1MM  is targeted to "Retention of staff to ensure continuity of learning - Administrators" and $9.8 MM to ``Retention of staff to ensure continuity of learning -Support Staff."   Fontana Unified School District, CA ($96MM) is spending $24.1MM: "Additional monetary one-time compensation will be provided to all staff for the 2021-22 for school-related  duties attributable to transitioning to full-person instruction with virtual instructional options as well as implementing COVID-19 safety practices and procedures." 
  • Portland Public Schools, ME ($17.9MM) will spend $6.3MM on "Salary, benefits, stipends and related pay for educational staff ($6,000,000), as well as vaccination bonuses for vaccinated staff to ensure the safety of our staff and students ($275,000)" this year.  
  • Socorro Consolidated Schools, NM ($6.7MM)  will be spending just over $3MM to "Pay retention/recruitment/hazard payment to all staff who are employed now and attract new staff for open positions." 
  • Checotah Public Schools, OK ($3.1MM) "plans to use ESSER III funds to provide return to work stipends, hazard duty stipends, and training stipends for 2022FY, 2023FY, and 2024FY. We project that the stipends will cost a total of $1,116,000.00 for all three fiscal years. These stipends will help retain employees in the current climate that they are asked to work in. It will also allow the school to train the employees in COVID prevention measures."  Meanwhile Tulsa Public Schools, OK ($130.8MM) is planning on $10MM for "Recruitment and retention incentives to ensure continuity of service to students and staff and fill hard-to-staff roles and schools."
  • Bend-La Pine Schools, OR ($18.8MM) is spending $2.4MM to "provide distinguished service stipends for all BLS staff."
  • Roma ISD, TX ($33.7MM) will be spending $4MM per year over the next three years for "Staff Retention Stipends." 
  • Greenbriar County Schools, WV ($13MM) will be using $9.6MM to retain staff between now and 2024:  "To combat student achievement gaps, students will benefit from smaller class sizes due to achievement and social/emotional regulation gaps due to COVID 19.  We do not yet know how our enrollment will pan out with some families choosing homeschooling when remote learning is no longer an option. Virtual school will still be an option."  Hardy County Schools, WV ($4.9MM) is spending $422,000 on retaining staff.
  • Winner School District, SD  ($3.3MM) is "looking at" paying $750 incentive bonuses at the end of each semester, for a total cost of $150,000. 
  • Mount Ida School District, AR ($1.5MM) is spending $326,802 on "additional demands - compensation" in addition to $117,000 on "COVID leave." 
  • Washakie County School District # 1, WY  ($4MM) has set aside $775,600 for "workforce stabilization." 


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