Delaware received over $600 million in ESSER funds.

Here’s how $600M in COVID education money was spent 

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Delaware Live, Education

Delaware received over $600 million in ESSER money.

Delaware received over $600 million in ESSER money.

First State Educate, a local education advocacy group, held a webinar Tuesday to outline where COVID-19 relief money went.

Relief funds were spent on learning loss, educational technology, building and mental health. 

“As we come through, and hopefully out of the COVID-19 pandemic learning loss and recovery, not just academic, but social emotional recovery is a grave concern of mine,” Holodick said. 

The money was included in the $122 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER Fund, which was allocated across three separate rounds. 

Delaware received $637,239,246.

The first round of funds were distributed in March 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, and Delaware received $43,492,752.

The second round — part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations, or CRRSA Act — were dished out in December 2020, with Delaware receiving $182,885,104. 

In March 2021, the third round was distributed through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. Delaware received $410,733,965. 

Holodick shared how much money was given to each district and charter, and how much each spent.

Christina School District was given the most money, with $77,512,979.05.

Delmar School District received the least with $3,872,924.

Appoquinimink has spent the most so far — 76.19% of the $12,129,207 is was allocated.

No other district has spent more than 40% of their relief funds.

Colonial School District used only 11.77% of their funds, the lowest amount in the state. 

“I’m not surprised that you might have a district like Appoquinimink that has spent a large portion of their allocation where in Delmar, a much smaller district, might have only spent about 14% of their ESSER II and ESSER III funds,” said Holodick. 

For the state’s seven charter schools, East Side was given the most at $4,161,038, and Wilmington Charter the least with $169,708.

Wilmington Charter has spent the most of as a percentage of their allocation at 98%.

Although East Side received the most, they’ve only spent 19.64%, compared to the other six charters who all used at least 33% of their budget. 

The data was broken down by percent of their budget spent on each category and districts versus charter schools.

How the money was spent: 

  • (District) Red Clay Consolidated School District spent the most on learning loss and Cape Henlopen spent the least.  
  • (Charter) Campus Community Charter spent the most on learning loss while Friere Charter spent the least. 

  • (District) Seaford School District spent the most on educational technology while Colonial School District spent the least.
  • (Charter) East Side spent the most on educational technology while Wilmington Charter spent the least.

  • (District) Christina spent the most on buildings and Appo spent the least. 
  • (Charter) Sussex Academy spent the most on buildings while Friere and Newark spent the least. 

  • (District) Woodbridge School District spent the most on mental health and Brandywine, Cape Henlopen, Delmar, Milford and Smyrna all spent nothing.
  • (Charter) East Side spent the most on mental health while Wilmington Charter, Newark, Odyssey and Campus Community all spent nothing.

To read the ESSER Financial Transparency Report, click here. There are detailed instructions on how to navigate through the report here.

Related: Webinar to focus on where COVID education money went

First State Educate officials left the audience with a list of people to contact if they have questions, concerns, or thoughts on school funding.

They recommended contacting Gov. John Carney, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, senators, representatives, school board presidents and superintendents. 

They also left the attendees with a pamphlet of six questions to ask if they don’t know how to guide the conversation but want to learn more about where the dollars are being spent.

The questions are: 

  1. How much federal funding did our district/charter receive?
  2. How are you planning to spend these federal dollars?
  3. What changes do you hope to see from these investments?
  4. How will you know these changes are successful?
  5. When are the community input meetings being held?
  6. Where can I find a record of what’s already been spent? Where can I find the current spending plan?

Tuesday’s webinar was the first of two in First State Educate’s “Where is the COVID EDUCATION money now” series.

The second will be held Sept. 27 at 9:30 a.m. and will feature Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, vice president of policy at ExcelinEd, a national education advocacy group, and Cara Candal, managing director of policy at the ExcelinEd. 

Register here. The event will also be livestreamed on First State Educate’s Facebook page.

Jarek Rutz can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz and on LinkedIn.

Share this Post