As we approach September 2024, private school administrators are bracing for the expiration of both Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These resources have been instrumental in supporting schools through the unprecedented challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as these funding streams come to an end, administrators need to look ahead and strategize on how to sustain and enhance their educational programs.

Understanding the Impact

The expiration of EANS and ESSER funds marks the end of significant financial support that helped private schools manage during the pandemic. These funds covered expenses ranging from sanitation and health measures to technology upgrades and remote learning capabilities. The withdrawal of this support will undoubtedly leave a gap that needs to be addressed thoughtfully and efficiently.

The Promise of ESSA Equitable Services

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers an alternative pathway for private schools to continue to access and receive federal funding. While ESSA funds are not directly allocated to private schools, they are entitled to equitable services in certain program areas facilitated through either their local education agency (LEA) or by using a third-party provider, like FACTS. Understanding how to navigate this process is key to unlocking potential support in areas such as professional development, instructional materials, and educational technology.

Strategies for Leveraging ESSA Equitable Services

  1. Build Strong Relationships with LEAs: Success in accessing ESSA fund begins with fostering positive relationships with local education agencies. Open lines of communication and collaborative planning are essential for ensuring that the needs of private school students are met.
  2. Identify Needs and Prioritize Services: Conduct a thorough needs assessment to determine the areas where your school requires the most support. Prioritize these needs in discussions with your LEA to ensure that the services provided are impactful and aligned with your educational goals.
  3. Understand Eligible Programs: ESSA covers various programs, including Title I instructional services for underperforming, academically disadvantaged students, professional development for teachers under Title II, and English language acquisition programs under Title III. Familiarize yourself with these programs and identify how they can support your school’s specific needs.
  4. Engage in the Consultation Process: Active engagement in the consultation process with your LEA is critical. This process determines how equitable services are provided and ensures that the services address the needs identified by private schools.
  5. Leverage Technology and Professional Development: With the shift in education towards more digital and blended learning environments, using ESSA funds for technology integration and professional development can be particularly effective. Focus on initiatives that build teacher capacity and enhance student learning experiences.
  6. Monitor and Evaluate Services: Once services are being provided, it’s important to monitor their effectiveness and ensure they are meeting students’ needs. On-going feedback ensures that strategies will be adjusted as necessary to maximize the impact of the support received.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

The expiration of EANS and ESSER funds presents both challenges and opportunities for private school administrators. By pivoting towards ESSA Funding, schools can continue to access federal support for critical educational services. The key to success lies in understanding the intricacies of the ESSA framework, engaging constructively with LEAs, and strategically aligning the available services with the school’s needs. This transition period offers a chance to reinforce the resilience and adaptability of private schools, ensuring they continue to deliver high-quality education in the post-pandemic landscape.

Interested in a free ESSA Consultation with FACTS? Contact the FACTS team to see what funds are available for your school.