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Jan 3 --  The Department of Education (Department) proposes a requirement for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act). This requirement is intended to promote accountability and transparency by requiring each State educational agency (SEA) to post on its website maintenance of equity information for each applicable local educational agency (LEA). We must receive your comments on or before February 2, 2022.
 
The ARP Act provides nearly $122 billion via the ARP ESSER Fund to SEAs and LEAs to help schools return safely to in-person instruction; sustain the safe operation of schools; and address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nation's students. Under section 2004 of the ARP Act, SEAs and LEAs must meet new maintenance of equity requirements to receive funds under the ARP ESSER Fund. These provisions ensure that LEAs and schools serving a large share of students from low-income backgrounds do not experience a disproportionate share of reduced funding in fiscal years (FYs) 2022 and 2023, and that, for the highest-poverty LEAs, State funding is not decreased below their FY 2019 level. In addition, the maintenance of equity provisions ensure that each LEA safeguards its high-poverty schools from disproportionate cuts to funding and staffing.  
 
The Department required each SEA to report to it baseline and initial data on the State's high-need and highest-poverty LEAs. These data include: a list of the high-need LEAs; the statewide per-pupil amount of State funds provided to all LEAs in FYs 2021 and 2022 as well as the per-pupil amount provided to each high-need LEA in those years; a list of the highest-poverty LEAs; and the per-pupil amount of State funds provided to each highest-poverty LEA in FYs 2019 and 2022. In addition, each SEA was required to submit a list of the high-poverty schools in each LEA that must maintain equity in FY 2022. The Department is posting these data on its website at: https://oese.ed.gov/​offices/​american-rescue-plan/​american-rescue-plan-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief/​maintenance-of-equity/​and will update the website as new data become available. The Department also intends to collect SEA-level maintenance of equity data through each State's annual performance report and will make those data publicly available.
 
Although data on State-level maintenance of equity will be available on the Department's website, there are not publicly available data for LEA-level maintenance of equity. Accordingly, on October 5, 2021, the Department proposed a requirement [2] to address this need for transparency and accountability consistent with the Department's policy goals of ensuring that schools serving large proportions of historically underserved groups of students—including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, migratory students, and students experiencing homelessness—receive an equitable share of State and local funds as the Nation continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our education system. To support these goals, and to ensure public accountability for the implementation of the LEA-level maintenance of equity provisions of the ARP Act, the Department proposed to require that each SEA make publicly available information on how each LEA in the State is maintaining fiscal and staffing equity to meet the requirements of section 2004(c) of the ARP Act. Requiring that maintenance of equity data be publicly available would allow parents, families, and local communities to access information on how the LEA is maintaining equity for schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families. Additionally, public posting of data and information on how each LEA in the State is maintaining equity is an important accountability tool for SEAs and the Department.
 
In response to the proposed requirement, the Department received 27 comments from States, LEAs, and national organizations. After considering those comments and other stakeholder input, the Department proposes this significantly revised requirement and invites public comment. See: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/01/03/2021-28376/proposed-requirement-american-rescue-plan-act-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief-fund

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