News & Insights
Clarifying the Details: Federal Emergency & Coronavirus Relief Funding Requirements for Charter Schools
March 15th, 2021
Audit & Assurance |
COVID-19 Relief Services
The 2020-21 school year has been unlike any we’ve experienced before. One short year ago, schools across the country were forced to transform how they functioned in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly $135.6 billion of federal funding was approved by Congress to provide relief and assistance to schools throughout the U.S. in 2020, with Michigan schools receiving more than $2.04 billion of appropriated funding. While these new revenue sources provided much-needed support to schools through the pandemic, they are accompanied by complex compliance requirements.
It’s crucial board members, school administrators, and financial staff understand the ins and outs of how federal funding can be spent and how it needs to be reported to avoid any compliance issues or fines.
Below is a quick summary of new requirements your academy may be subject to:
Elementary And Secondary School Emergency Relief
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund awards grants to state educational agencies to provide local educational agencies, including charter schools, with emergency relief funds to address the impact of coronavirus on schools. ESSER is part of the U.S. Education Department’s (USED) Educational Stabilization Fund Program.
Eligible applicants are those school districts and public school academies that received a Title I, Part A allocation from the Michigan Department of Education.
ESSER allocations are federal grant monies subject to any applicable federal spending, accounting, and reporting requirements. The expected grant period began March 13, 2020 and extends through September 30, 2022. ESSER II extends the “last date to obligate funds” through Sept. 30, 2023.
ESSER funds, which must be awarded and tracked separately from Title I, Part A funds, can be used for allowable expenditures incurred on or after March 13, 2020, the date a national emergency was declared due to COVID-19. Some examples of permissible expenditures include supplies purchased to sanitize and clean facilities, training, and professional development for staff on sanitation, technology (like laptops) for students working remotely, and mental health service and support. A complete list can be found in the 2020 Compliance Supplement Addendum (page 60).
Timeline for ESSER Awarded Funds
Coronavirus Relief Fund
The School Aid Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) is funding provided to districts in an amount equal to $350 per pupil in membership for 2020-2021 school year. This funding can only be used to provide relief for expenditures incurred due to COVID-19. Given the limitations, there are many questions regarding the allowable uses and expenditure documentation of these specific funds.
According to guidance from the U.S. Treasury, CRF funds may only be used to cover costs that:
- Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
- Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the state or government;
- Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2021.
Treasury will presume expenses of up to $500 per elementary and secondary school student are eligible expenditures. Documenting how funding is utilized is a recommended best practice.
In addition, non-federal entities, including charter schools, will be required to have a single audit performed if they received more than $750,000 in federal funds in 2020. This audit requirement means that if your school received more than $750,000, inclusive of COVID-related emergency funds, you would be on the hook for a single audit – an essential compliance-related item to ensure you’ve accounted for.
Need an Extra Hand? We Can Help.
These federal requirements can be a lot for administrators and staff to follow. If you could use some guidance understanding the details or assistance with ensuring your school is utilizing and reporting the federal funding appropriately, our team of education experts is here to help!
Maner Costerisan is a proven partner for more than 100 school districts across Michigan. We are experts in understanding and simplifying the complexities of COVID-19 relief funding for charter schools.
CARES Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Tracker, National Conference of State Legislatures, 2020
ESSER Fund FAQs, Office of Elementary & Secondary Education, 2020
CRF Allowability, State of Michigan Department of Education, 2020