Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education ESA Funding Information

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Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Technology Coordinators; Test Coordinators; General Business Managers; Bookkeepers; School Counselors; Child Nutrition Directors/Managers; Data Stewards (SIS; eSchool; eFinance; TRIAND); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster)

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Memo Text

A.C.A. 6-20-2303 (14) states the following:


(A) “National school lunch students” means those students or the percentage of enrolled students from low socioeconomic backgrounds as indicated by eligibility for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1751 et seq., as determined on October 1 of each previous school year and submitted to the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, unless the school district is identified by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education as participating in the special assistance certification and reimbursement alternative implemented under 42 U.S.C. § 1759a.

(B) If the school district is participating under 42 U.S.C. § 1759a, then for purposes of funding under § 6-20-2305(b), such a school district's annual percentage of national school lunch students shall be equal to the percentage submitted in the base year, which means the last school year for which eligibility determinations were made and in accordance with rules adopted by the state board.

(C) The state board may promulgate rules as necessary to meet the federal requirements under 42 U.S.C. § 1759a in order to enable the school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools to fully participate in federal and state programs;

For districts not utilizing Provision II or CEP, ESA funding is based upon the percent of students in the district that qualify for free or reduced lunches as of October 1 of the previous year.

For the 2023-2024 school year (Fiscal Year 24), the ESA funding for a district is based on the percent of students that qualify for free or reduced lunches as of October 1, 2022.  These numbers are reported as part of Cycle 2.

If students enroll after October 1, 2022, they should not be included in the percent of students used to calculate ESA funding. Additionally, free or reduced eligibility determinations that occur after October 1, are not to be included in the Cycle 2 submission.

A USDA flexibility has been offered to SFAs for SY 2022-2023 that allows districts to carry over the meal status from the most recent eligibility established back to 2019-2020. The carryover will last up to 30 operating days in SY 2022-2023 or until a new eligibility has been established, whichever comes first. For more information refer to Commissioner’s Memo CNU 22-029.

Therefore, districts should ensure that all students who qualify for free or reduced lunches have the paperwork and documentation turned into the district no later than October 1 and reported correctly in their district Cycle 2 report, to ensure access to the ESA funding available.

During the fiscal session of 2022, special language was passed to assist districts with the transition from the Seamless Summer Option (extended through the pandemic) back to the National School Lunch Program.  Notwithstanding the provisions established under Arkansas Code § 6-20-2305(b)(4), for the 2022-23 School Year, (Fiscal Year 2023), a public school district shall not receive less Enhanced Student Achievement Funding than the amount it received in Fiscal Year 2022. Any public school district entitled to Enhanced Student Achievement Funding above the amount that was received in Fiscal Year 2022 due to an increased number of identified national school lunch students shall receive the Enhanced Student Achievement Funding amount as calculated under Arkansas Code § 6-20-2305(b)(4).  The provisions of the special language remain in effect only from July 1, 2022 through June 30,2023.

Additional information concerning the calculation of ESA funds can be found in the Rules Governing Student Special Needs Funding.



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