Fairfax County School Board Approves $188 Million ESSER III Spending Plan

By Office of Communication and Community Relations
August 26, 2021

The Fairfax County School Board approved a $188.6 million spending plan for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) grant funds at its Board meeting on August 26. 

The funds will be used to address expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the safe reopening of schools and to sustain the safe operation of schools. The spending plan also outlines how the division will address the impact of COVID on students by addressing their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.

“Our ESSER III spending plan is focused on supporting the whole child and ensuring that staff have the tools to support student academic, social, emotional, and mental health,” said Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “We know, and national studies confirm, that students experienced significant unfinished learning. Our plan identifies clear and consistent expectations for what schools should offer as high quality academic content, addressing gaps in standards from the previous year and standards to cover this school year.”

The grant funding requires the spending be focused in four areas: 

  • Unfinished learning
  • Student academic, social, emotional, and mental health/wellness needs
  • Prevention and mitigation strategies
  • Other use of funds including technology, multilingual engagement and equity needs

The majority of the ESSER III spending (82%) will address learning loss and student academic,  social, emotional, and mental (wellness) health needs. The remaining funds will be used for prevention and mitigation strategies and other uses such as communication, technology, transportation, program management, and school monitors. 

The plan includes $10 million to support monitors who can help with cafeteria lunches and outdoor learning.The funding can also be used for additional substitute coverage as needed. The Board also directed the Superintendent to communicate the expectation that students will be provided the opportunity to eat outside whenever possible and staff will be encouraged to utilize outdoor learning too.

Funding of $1.0 million will provide 10.0 ESOL teacher positions to provide direct student support to English learners. 

Each school will receive funding allocations as well as stipends for academics and wellness. The academic and wellness allocations are to be used to directly support students. The amount each school receives is based on its projected enrollment and need. Need was determined using the following factors: 

  • Free and reduced meals 
  • Percent of English Learners 
  • Percent of Students with Disabilities 
  • Reading and Mathematics achievement reverse index
  • Graduation and Completion Index (for high schools). 

The funding will be used to support academics and wellness, including the use of tutors, monitors to support school services, additional instruction for students in need of hands-on and other preparatory learning for industry credentials and Career and Technical course completion, additional English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), transportation for before school, after school, and Saturday programs, family engagement, materials and programs, hourly pay for teachers, professional development, additional collaborative planning time, and hiring of monitors. 

All schools will create a plan that outlines how they will use their ESSER III funding to support students’ academics and wellness, and they will post information about their plan on the school website. 

The ESSER III plan also includes additional financial support for special education teachers whose scheduled daily work hours will be increased from 7.5 hours per day to 8.0 hours per day. Their salary will increase in line with the additional 30 minutes per day. 

To help attract additional bus drivers, funding will also be used to increase the starting hourly rate for bus drivers to $22.91. 

The spending plan was based on extensive public engagement resulting in participation from more 1,600 community members in June. The plan also reflects the priorities of the School Board and needs identified by the FCPS leadership team. 

More information about the ESSER III plan is available on the FCPS website.