The Maine DOE has launched the Federal Emergency Relief Funding Dashboard to increase the visibility of the services being supported, facilitate public access to information about spending, and highlight the use of federal emergency funding at the local level. The Dashboard empowers all stakeholders – educators, families, and communities – to see allocations, reimbursements requested, and remaining funds. The dashboard is currently tracking the $638,361,281 of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding and will be updated on a monthly basis. The Maine DOE was required to allocate at least 90% of the ESSER funds to school administrative units (SAUs), which totaled $574,963,086.
The ARP ESSER interim final requirement indicates that each SAU that received ARP ESSER funds must develop and make publicly available on the SAU's website, a plan for the Use of Funds and a plan for the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services. The URLs for Maine SAU plans are available at https://www.maine.gov/doe/covid-19/fedrelief/sauplans.
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The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has received $1,021,690,359 in federal emergency relief funding to improve student learning, address unfinished learning, support students’ mental health and combat pandemic-related challenges. The three federal emergency relief acts are:
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted on March 27, 2020 to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools.
- Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act enacted on December 27, 2020 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 related to addressing learning loss, preparing schools for reopening, and testing, repairing, and upgrading projects to improve air quality in school buildings.
- American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act enacted on March 11, 2021 to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is administered by the United States Department of Education. ESSER funds were distributed "to address diverse needs arising from or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, or to emerge stronger post-pandemic, including responding to students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs and continuing to provide educational services as States and school administrative units (SAUs) respond to and recover from the pandemic." (Frequently Asked Questions, updated December 2022). Additional information about the three federal emergency relief acts can be found at https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/elementary-secondary-school-emergency-relief-fund.
Any use of ESSER funds must be “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to” the COVID-19 pandemic while being necessary and reasonable for the performance of the ESSER award. This means that transferring funds to a rainy-day fund, bridging a budget shortfall that is not related to the pandemic, and providing matching funds for other federal programs are not allowable.