Per guidance from both the U. S. Department of Education and the Arkansas Department of Education, ARP ESSER funds may be utilized for retention and recruitment payments to public school employees to address staffing challenges that have increased as a result of the COVID pandemic.
On July 21, 2022, ALC adopted the following recommendations for school districts’ use of these funds:
That school districts utilize available ARP ESSER funds to provide retention and recruitment bonuses to:
- Teachers in the amount of $5,000 each;
- Full-time classified school district staff in the amount of $2,500 each; and
- Part-time classified school district staff, as determined by ADE, in amounts that are half of those awarded to their full-time counterparts.
Under federal law, the SEA (Arkansas Department of Education) may not direct how LEAs choose to use ARP ESSER funds but will assist LEAs as needed to develop plans and priorities. ADE is highlighting this legislative action for your awareness and response.
As directed by ALC, ADE will coordinate the delivery of specific ARP ESSER plans for each
school district’s use of the funds. If the school district is unable to meet those recommendations due to locally developed priorities, that district is also required to provide a comprehensive statement as to why the school district is unable to utilize the ARP ESSER funds in this manner.
Please note that prior and plans for future additional payments from other funding sources including ESSER II and/or ARP ESSER funds will be considered as part of a district’s justification.
Each district should review the ALC Motion (attached). Districts are asked to review their current ARP ESSER Use of Funds plans and confirm if current plans:
- Meet the ALC recommendation;
- Will be revised to meet the ALC recommendation; or
- Cannot meet the ALC recommendation due to plans for addressing higher priority needs as determined locally (with justification provided)
The ADE request for appropriation for reimbursement of school districts based on the locally developed plans will be submitted to the PEER subcommittee for approval once confirmation is received. An email will be sent directly to each superintendent with instructions on how to provide the requested information.
Please note that DESE may not reimburse districts for ARP ESSER expenditures until the ADE appropriation request has been approved by the ALC PEER Subcommittee.