Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius this week 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 the first round of $55 million was already used in 2020 to return to school safely. Other rounds include:
•ESSER II – Recover lost learning and wellness: $123 million.
•ESSER III – Reimagine BPS for a sustained strong and equitable system: $276 million.
ESSER II funding, totaling approximately $123 million, and ESSER III funding totaling approximately $276 million, have not yet been received from the state. The draft plan released 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. 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.
The plan 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.