02.28.22 - Update to the Community on ESSER III Funding Allocation

  • Monday, February 28

    Boston Public Schools (BPS) has remained steadfast in our commitment to stewarding the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These funds, available to BPS as part of the federal response to the ongoing global pandemic, are intended to mitigate the negative impact of interrupted learning that our students have experienced over the past several years, with special focus given to students who may have been disproportionately impacted, such as students of color, students learning English and students with disabilities.

    BPS is expected to receive $400 million in total ESSER funds, an important investment in our work to accelerate learning, support the social and emotional wellbeing of students and staff, and address historic challenges in our school buildings. 

    As with all things, context is important: the $400 million in federal funds are a welcome expansion of resources at a time of incredible need. However, they represent just a fraction of the overall BPS budget (the draft of which this year totals $1.3 billion

    and includes a $40 million increase over last year and $100+ million increase over three years ago). Therefore, it is important that we consider not only our short-term recovery needs, but also the long term priorities for the district. The federal funds, along with historic investment BPS has received from the City of Boston, lay the foundation for our ongoing work to create strong schools in every neighborhood and greater opportunities for every student. 

    As always, we are rooted in our strategic plan and view every opportunity as a way to make progress on closing opportunity and achievement gaps, and continue to Return, Recover, and Reimagine BPS for years to come.



    We designed an extensive and inclusive public engagement process to guide our decision-making on the allocation of ESSER funds. Seeking input from the diversity of voices that make up our BPS community, we met with students, families, teachers, staff, education researchers, business and philanthropic leaders, and members of our vast network to consider all options for the allocation of these funds. We provided opportunities to submit comments. We heard testimony at School Committee meetings. We started a Student ESSER Commission and a Community ESSER Commission and hosted community meetings that engaged more than 1,500 stakeholders.

    On top of that, each school held at least one meeting to gather feedback from their students, families, and staff members on exactly what would be the best way to invest funding to match their school's specific needs. 

    Finally, we have also consulted our partners at the Council of Great City Schools, the Rennie Center for Education, and our fellow big city public school districts to identify and employ best practices.



    The message we heard clearly from our BPS community is that we need to ensure these funds are directed to supporting students in their recovery from this global pandemic, that they should support the implementation of our strategic plan, and that they should be spent in a manner that does not set us up for future budget cuts when the funding expires.


    Funding Decisions

    We are reporting here on the funding allocated through ESSER III, as approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). We were informed by DESE on January 28, 2022 that our plan as presented was approved and we have been working with our schools and departments on the successful deployment of these funds.

    Our stated goal from the beginning has been to direct nearly half of the funding to schools to address their specific challenges and opportunities and to invest the other half in solutions offered to all schools.

    As a reminder, BPS focused the $55 million in ESSER I funding we received on setting the conditions for students to return to in-person learning, including:

    • $25 million - Health and Safety 
    • $9 million - Food and Nutrition Services
    • $10 million - Expanded Summer Learning & Academic Supports
    • $5 million - Special Education Assessments & Compensatory Services
    • $5 million - Distance Learning and Technology
    • $1 million - Family and Student Engagement and Support

    While $122 million in ESSER II investments focused on implement recovery strategies, including investments in:

    • $61.5 million - Weighted allocation to support Quality School Plan implementation at Schools
    • $27.1 million - Operational Return and Recovery: School Environments and Beyond
    • $10.5 million - Academic Recovery - Students with Disabilities
    • $8.8 million - Academic Recovery - Instructional Core
    • $6.2 million - Academic Recovery - English Language Learners
    • $5.5 million - Social-Emotional Recovery: Strengthening Community and Investing in Children and Families
    • $3.3 million - Accountability, Implementation, and Risk Management
  • The $276 million in ESSER III funding plan approved by DESE includes the following investments:

  • $100 million - Weighted Allocation to Support Quality School Plan Implementation at Schools

  • $43.1 million - Strengthen Core Instruction

  • $6.6 million - Ensure Inclusion

  • $12.8 million - Accelerate Multilingual Learning

  • $16.5 million - Create High Quality Pathways

  • $23.3 million - Guarantee Equitable Access & Opportunity

  • $27.5 million - Engage Families & Community

  • $28.1 million - Improve School Environments

  • $10 million - Future Investments in Community Partnerships and Cross-school Innovation