Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education ESSER: Eligible Uses of Funds Guidance Document UPDATED

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Public School Accountability
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Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; General Business Managers; Bookkeepers

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The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has received appropriations for ARP ESSER Funds. School districts may begin obligating and expending ARP ESSER on July 1, 2021.

DESE is also providing updated guidance regarding all ESSER funds based on the May 26, 2021, release of US ED  Frequently Asked Questions: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Programs Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Programs, (please see B6, B7, and B8 regarding facilities posted on the US ED website)

  1. Due to this update all HVAC and other facilities improvements must have prior approval by DESE.  Therefore, if the district has obligated ESSER I or ESSER II funds, prior to May 26, 2021, for any facilities improvement, please send a copy of the district’s written justification to for approval. The written justification must address the COVID-19 connection, reasonable cost, and necessary (data - how the purchase, improvement, or upgrade will improve air quality and/or limit the transmission of the virus).  Mr. Cain’s office will review and provide an email verifying approval.  This approval should then be archived for audit purposes.  You may also include this memo as documentation.  This includes any facilities improvements - HVAC, remodeling, or other changes to facilities not previously submitted for prior approval.
  2. For ESSER I, ESSER II, and ARP ESSER obligations to program codes 196 and 197, after May 26, 2021, all facilities improvements must have prior approval.

In addition, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has updated a guidance document regarding possible uses of ESSER funds to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in effectively utilizing ESSER funds to meet the needs of Arkansas public schools. All activities supported with ESSER funds must relate to preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. Expenditures must be reasonable and necessary.  ESSER is its own, separate, flexible program intended to assist with the COVID-19 response. ESSER-funded activities can benefit all students and schools or be targeted to select students and schools, depending on local needs.

Guidance Document for Eligible Uses of Funds

The guidance document contains related links for ESSER Funds including budget codes, justification framework, facilities guidance and approval links.  An additional guidance document is provided to support districts in understanding Capital Improvement and Construction with Federal Funds.


All ESSER expenditures with program codes 196 or 197 require prior approval.  The prior approval form is here (download into Word before filling out).  While districts may use vendors from the TIPS/TAPS contract, districts must still follow the federal procurement requirements of soliciting bids.  



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