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Commonwealth's Counties

Bill Requiring School Divisions to Spend ESSER Funds Goes to the Senate

HB 2269 (Greenhalgh) would require local school divisions to return any unspent or unobligated Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) or Governor Emergency Education Relief Funds (GEER) state set-aside funds exceeding 20 percent of its total awarded allocations, awarded to the local school division by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to VDOE no later than July 15, 2023, unless precluded by federal law or regulation.

These emergency federal funds were provided in three tranches by Congress to address the impacts of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools across the nation. Virginia received nearly $3.3 billion in ESSER funds alone. Under federal guidelines, ESSER II and GEER II funds must be obligated by September 30, 2023, and ESSER III funds must be obligated by September 30, 2024. The deadline for obligation of ESSER I funds has already passed, however, according to October 2022 data from VDOE, ESSER II and III funds still remain. Federal guidance indicates that state legislatures cannot shorten the period of availability for ESSER formula funds provided to school divisions. This effort is supported by Governor Youngkin. The bill passed the House on a vote of 52-48 and has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee’s Public Education Subcommittee.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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