COVID-19 introduced the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds that provided crucial help for schools during the first year of the pandemic.
With the largest of three rounds of ESSER funding running out this current school year, districts nationwide are figuring out how to create sustainable strategies to address ongoing needs. With the clock ticking, we’re here to guide you through determining the most sustainable use of unspent ESSER funds before September 2024.
Maximize existing resources
Although alternative funding might not completely make up for the gap in ESSER funding, there are ways to explore existing funding streams to maximize resources. EdWeek Research Center conducted a survey of 250 district leaders that said:
- 48 percent will use state funds
- 33 percent plan to rely on local tax revenue and federal Title 1 funds
- 20 percent intend to tap into funds from private donors and nonprofits
Districts can work closely with their finance departments to identify and repurpose these funds to match their evolving needs, such as continuing to flesh out a robust substitute program.
Although September 2024 feels far away, schools leaders across the US have already begun taking action to prevent last minute scrambling to allocate resources. Districts anticipating surplus funds have found it crucial to prioritize one-time investments with long-term benefits that can ensure sustained support beyond the ESSER period. According to the US Department of Education, some ESSER-funded activities may continue after the fact, such as pre-paying for multi-year licensing contracts.
Partner with a substitute teacher marketplace
To address the ongoing substitute teacher shortage more sustainably, consider exploring flexible staffing models, such as Swing Education. By outsourcing the hiring process to experts, districts can allocate resources more effectively, ensuring seamless classroom coverage and cost predictability for the 2024-2025 academic year.
Invest in your subs
Substitute teacher satisfaction significantly impacts retention rates. Districts must prioritize creating a conducive work environment by:
- Providing comprehensive information before assignments (i.e. parking details, school policies, contact points)
- Offering plenty of advance notice for substitutes to accept assignments
- Fostering a sense of community and connection within schools
By enhancing the substitute teacher experience and addressing existing challenges, districts can achieve greater retention rates, reducing future recruitment costs and optimizing budget allocations effectively.
As districts navigate the post-ESSER landscape, schools must proactively address funding challenges to ensure the continued well-being of students and the effectiveness of teaching. Through collaborative efforts and strategic initiatives, schools can ensure that substitute teachers remain a crucial (and adequately funded) component of the education system.