NH school districts are receiving over $315 million in federal ARP ESSER funding to address the impacts of COVID-19. We looked to see if school districts are distributing their funding in an equitable manner to assist the students who need it the most, including students with disabilities.
We found that:*
- Up-to-date information about how districts are spending these funds is difficult to locate. Six month updates from each district were due March 9th but are not yet available for review.
- Districts are not making meaningful efforts to engage with the public as required by the grant.
- Few district plans appear to distribute funding in an equitable manner to assist students who need it most, including students with disabilities.
*Six Month Updates
School districts were required to provide the NH Department of Education (NHDOE) with an update of how they are using these funds by February 23, 2022. This deadline was recently moved to March 9, 2022. On March 9th, we reached out to the NH DOE requesting access to these six month updates but were told it would take a while for them to be posted publicly. We will continue to monitor their status and will update our analysis accordingly.
Previous Related Efforts
Back in August, each school district had to submit a plan for spending these funds to the NH Department of Education. In order to ensure that districts distributed this funding in an equitable manner and in a way that assisted students with disabilities and others who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, we submitted a list of recommendations to every district in the state.
In our recommendations, we asked school districts to consider how the school might address issues like: the social and emotional needs of children with disabilities and other at-risk students, the educational needs of students with IEPs who were unable to meet their goals or who missed out on supports and services, the transition goals of children with disabilities and how to make sure these children are involved and supported in creating and implementing meaningful and achievable transition plans, and the staffing levels at school and whether additional staff or staff training would be helpful to support students with disabilities.