The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) today submitted to the United States Department of Education (USED) the application required to receive Missouri’s allocation for the ARP ESSER fund, often referred to by DESE as ESSER III. Missouri’s allocation totals $1.96 billion, 90 percent of which will be distributed directly to local education agencies (LEAs) to spend on a wide range of allowable uses to respond to COVID-19. DESE will use the remaining 10 percent of the funds to address the impact of COVID-19 through state-level projects and initiatives. Portions of both local and state dollars must be reserved for specific targeted uses.
“DESE focused its efforts throughout the pandemic on supporting Missouri’s locally controlled schools as they worked hard to continue serving our students,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. DESE worked to ensure the following: teacher certificates were issued without interruption; food and nutrition service programs adapted to meet families’ needs; statutory waivers were implemented to provide added flexibilities; task forces were commissioned to quickly address summer school and learning acceleration; and schools continued to receive funding to provide essential services. Even at the peak of COVID-19 case counts, no more than 25 percent of Missouri schools were operating on a fully remote basis. At the close of the 2020-21 school year, 99.5 percent were offering onsite learning options.
“As we look to the future, it’s clear that Missouri schools face several key issues we must address,” said Commissioner Vandeven. “DESE will use the unprecedented opportunity presented by ESSER III to partner with others to invest in the educator workforce, to commit resources to rigorous learning acceleration, and to address the digital divide.” DESE plans to create teacher recruitment and retention grants for all LEAs while also providing increased professional learning resources for educators. The state’s assessment system will also undergo a redesign to bring a greater focus on early literacy, to become fully aligned to the priority standards, and to better support learning processes.
Pending approval of the plan from USED and spending authority from Governor Parson and the Missouri legislature, provided through the state budget process, the plan will be implemented. The state plan in its entirety can be viewed here. An executive summary is also available here, featuring a breakdown of ARP ESSER funds at the state and local levels. ESSER III allocations for LEAs can be found on DESE’s COVID Relief Information webpage.