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Funding Sources for Education Entitities
In recent years, there has been a spike in funding sources for educational entities. For many of these organizations, a vast majority of the annual budget comes from state revenue including state sales tax. With numerous funding sources on the table, it is important for K-12 leaders to understand their school and district’s funding structure and how these sources can be used to educate students while providing equitable learning opportunities.
What is the source of the funding stream?
In a post from Education Week, we learned that approximately 48% of the budget for K-12 schools comes from state resources, which includes federal funding. An additional 44% is contributed locally through property taxes of homeowners in the service area. The final 8% of the public education budget comes from federal sources. This includes but is not limited to grants for specific programs and services that are used for students that meet the criteria of source.
What is available and how can it be used?
The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF)
The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.17 billion dollar program that was created to help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities needed for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through ECF, equipment can be purchased for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack sufficient connectivity.
Common Uses: Laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, school bus Wi-Fi, and modems and routers
- Filing Window 1: Filing window closed August 13, 2021. These funds have been released.
- Filing Window 2: Filing window closed October 13, 2021. These funds have been released.
- Filing Window 3: Filing window closed May 13, 2022. These funds are being released in waves.
During the first two application filing windows, applicants could submit requests for funding for purchases received between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023. During the third application filing window, applicants could submit requests funding for purchases received between July 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund provided nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the operation of schools and address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. Specifically for use in local public K-12 districts, ESSER funding can help to alleviate learning gaps created by the school from home model used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Common Uses: Devices and software for 1:1 programs, assistive technology, adaptive equipment, support for summer learning loss, and support for after-school programs
- ESSER I – These funds will expire on September 30, 2022
- ESSER II – These funds will expire on September 30, 2023
- ESSER III- These funds will expire on September 30, 2024
The universal service for schools and library program, commonly known as “E-Rate,” provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries obtain affordable telecommunications, internet access, internal connections, managed broadband service, and internal connections maintenance as applicable.
Category I: Data transmission services and/or internet access
Category II: Internal connections (IC), managed internal broadband services (MIBS), and basic maintenance of internal connections (BMIC)
Each category falls under an eligible services list for each funding year. For additional information on the eligibility of products and services under the Schools and Library Program, please take a moment to view Eligible Services List – Universal Service Administrative Company (usac.org).
Title funds are federal monies that are meant to supplement existing state funding for K-12 schools and districts. These funds are released yearly from the federal government and the State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) allocate a percentage to individual schools and districts. There are several different types of Title funds to support different student populations.
Funding Timeline: Title funds must be used within the school’s fiscal year (July – July), with the exception of Title I funds. In October, LEAs update their budget to account for title funds that are carrying over (no more than 15% from one year to the next).
Each state has their grant timelines so for specifics, we suggest looking for a calendar through your state’s Department of Education (DOE).
Title I, Part A, commonly referred to as simply Title I, is funding to support economically disadvantaged students. How Title I funds can be used is dependent on the percentage of students that come from low-income families. If 40% or more of students are considered low-income, funds must be used for school-wide initiatives, but if that number is less than 40%, funds must be used for programs that target low-income students.
Common Uses: 1:1 program devices, devices for off-campus student Wi-Fi, and support for after-school programs
Title II, Part A, commonly referred to as simply Title II, is funding to supports teacher, principal, administrator, and staff professional development.
Common Uses: Teacher signing bonuses, attending conferences (i.e. ISTE), and training associated with implementing new curriculum
Title III is funding to support English language learners (ELL) and immigrant students. To receive funding students must be between the ages of 3 and 21, enrolled or about to enroll in elementary or secondary school, and have difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language.
Common Uses: ELL technology, professional development for teachers and staff, and support for after-school or summer programs.
Title IV is funding to support a well-rounded education for students, safety and health of students, and effective use of education technology. You can view a full list of allowable uses here.
Common Uses: Mental health or career counseling, health and physical education, STEM programs, and professional development around the use of education technology.
How can these funding sources address the digital divide?
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the digital divide. The lack of equitable access to devices and reliable internet connectivity can have a negative impact on student achievement, advancement opportunities, and student learning.
Use these federal funds to ensure every student has access to online assignments, ELL tools, mental health resources, STEM programs, assistive technology, and more to succeed in school and beyond.
Consider the following products to support your school or district’s digital equity initiatives:
- Personal Wi-Fi hotspots
- LTE-enabled Chromebooks, laptops, and tablets
- Community connectivity pods
- Mobile STEM lab
- School bus Wi-Fi
When planning how to use your allocated funding it is important to develop a check list. This can occur by internal inventory, needs assessment, or a survey of the population in which you will provide services for. Remember to always review the eligible services list when applying to ensure that you are getting the best buying experience for your procurement needs. Here at Kajeet, we are committed to providing support for educational entities as they bridge the gap and close the digital divide.