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Boston Public Schools Releases First Draft of 3-Year Federal Funding Plan to Address Equitable Recovery and Opportunity
Community voice informs the proposal for historic funding; feedback period begins
BOSTON - Friday, July 9, 2021 - Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius today released the first draft of the district’s plan to distribute Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) federal funding.
The funding, approximately $400 million over the next three years, will provide opportunities to support the Return, Recover, and Reimagine agenda to return students safely to classrooms; recover from the pandemic and create the conditions for reimagining BPS; and reimagine a sustained, successful and equitable district. The one-time funding will also further support the district’s implementation of the five-year strategic plan.
The ESSER funding plan was developed and informed over the past three months through a robust community process that engaged students, families, teachers, staff, and the larger Boston community. The plan outlines how 100% of funding will be utilized to support stronger student outcomes. The plan ensures that the first 50% of funding is invested directly to schools; the next 30% will go to schools via school department investments; and the final 20% will be allocated to fund districtwide innovation, collaboration and community partnerships.
“This federal funding represents a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for us to dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity that have persisted in the Boston Public Schools for far too long. I am so thankful to all the many stakeholders who contributed the ideas that you see reflected in this plan,” said Superintendent Cassellius. “We are utilizing this ESSER funding as a continuous improvement strategy, directing funds to sustainable investments which will allow us to boldly confront the hard work ahead and achieve our goal of providing every student in every neighborhood with access to an excellent education in a high-quality school.”
The funding is expected in three rounds and BPS has allocated funds under the guiding principles of Return, Recover and Reimagine:
- CARES (Including ESSER I) - Return safely to in-person learning: $55 million
- ESSER II - Recover lost learning and wellness: $123 million
- ESSER III - Reimagine BPS for a sustained strong and equitable system: $276 million
The district has already planned spending for the $55 million received in ESSER I funding (also known as the CARES Act) towards returning students to in-person learning this spring and summer, investing in personal protective equipment, vaccines, COVID-19 testing, food and nutrition services, instructional technology, transportation, and facilities, including window repairs, air purifiers, and bathroom upgrades. ESSER II funding (also known as Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act or CRRSA), totaling approximately $123 million and ESSER III funding (also known as the American Rescue Plan Act or ARP), totaling approximately $276 million, have not yet been received from the state. The draft plan released today is specific to the ESSER II funding expected this fall. BPS will continue engagement on ESSER III funding through the fall.
Superintendent Cassellius and her team solicited feedback from students, families, teachers, local leaders, and the general public as part of an engagement process that included:
- A WikiWisdom page that provided opportunity for all BPS educators and staff to submit their ideas
- 33 community meetings with public comment and interpretation services provided, engaging more than 1,200 stakeholders
- 6 Commission meetings with experienced civic leaders and partners who collaborated with our parent associations, school leader representatives and BTU
- Reports from local and national organizations
BPS is also leveraging parent and community input on the district vision collected from July-December 2019, feedback on reopening schools collected May-August 2020, and again from May-July 2021, with a specific focus on the new federal investments. This engagement is in addition to ongoing discussions in Community Equity Roundtables, school-based equity roundtables, BPS task forces, student and family surveys, and issue-based district engagement forums. BPS is also launching a student commission for rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders to share their thoughts as to how the ESSER III funding should be spent. Meetings will be held this summer beginning Thursday, July 22.
"This has been a challenging year for the Boston Public Schools, but we all know that the inequities in our system existed prior to the pandemic,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. "Earlier this year the School Committee reaffirmed its commitment to improving student outcomes, and this historic federal funding will go a long way in supporting that goal, advancing equitable recovery and leveling the playing field for our students as our community moves forward together. I look forward to the continued feedback from our students, families, staff, and community partners."
The report will be available for public comment until July 30 at which time BPS will make final revisions based on feedback before submitting the plan to the state.