American Rescue Plan School Relief Funds – Rochester School District

Fall 2022 Update

In the fall of 2022, New Hampshire published a financial transparency tool to show how school districts have used their COVID relief funds.   Although opportunities for advocacy around how these funds will be spent have mostly passed, we have updated this page with a brief summary of what we found during the week of November 17th, 2022. Please note that the tool is updated weekly and we encourage you to use the transparency tool if you require current numbers.

Financial Transparency Tracking Tool

Community Engagement Recap

  • Rochester’s ESSER plans are posted on their website. The most recent plan is from March 2, 2022 and is available at
  • Rochester School District has its ESSER budget plans posted to its website. For the public comment requirement, Rochester had a stakeholder feedback survey which was distributed to students, staff, families, community members, and other stakeholder groups. It received 470 responses. It also hosted stakeholder feedback meetings in May and June 2021. Additionally, the School Board receives public feedback during Board meetings. The School Board created seven committees to meet monthly and receive input.

What we found:

  • According to the New Hampshire Financial Transparency tool, Rochester School District spent the most money on staffing (37%), building maintenance (31.1%), contractors (7.4%) and technology (7.4%).
  • It states that it will use reliable data sources to ensure the needs of each student are met. Students who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be monitored by the district to further target learning loss and academic gaps.
  • It states that it will continue to provide summer and after school learning opportunities and provide transportation for summer school.
  • It states that it will use early and accurate identification to support English Language Learners and students with disabilities.

March 2022

We were unable to identify specific programs devoted to students with disabilities or other marginalized groups, or focused on transition planning. We were unable to find plan updates* or current opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

Additional Information

What we know

  •  The Rochester School District is receiving $18 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).  The grant requires that 20% of this (or $3.6 million) is specifically allocated towards ‘learning loss recovery’ which is understood to include special education supports and services.
  • The district’s original plan outlining how it hoped to spend the funds can be downloaded from the district website at

What we found

  • Although Rochester’s funding plan mentions ‘addressing needs of all students including… students with disabilities’, no details are provided as to specific programs or services to support these students.
  • We could not identify programs or resources that: 
    • Target students with disabilities or students who belong to marginalized communities.
    • Promote the delivery of high-quality, individualized school to post-secondary school transition services

What we recommend

  • On February 15, 2022, we sent the district a letter with specific recommendations for meaningful stakeholder engagement. We have not received a response.  Our recommendations included the following: 
    • Replace the hyperlink on the district website currently leading to the original RSD ARP ESSER III use of funds plan³ with a hyperlink to a page containing up-to-date information regarding the ongoing process of fund allocation as well as a list of ways for stakeholders to provide input.
    • Hold dedicated public meetings for discussing ARP ESSER III fund allocation, at least every six months and upon any major changes or additions to the use of funds plan.
    • Provide alternative and accessible ways for the public to provide ongoing input, such as an online survey, dedicated email address, etc. Make this information available and easy to find on the district website, school websites, and other easily accessible locations.
    • Publicize opportunities for consultation and ways for families to find up-to-date information via social media, school email, and other relevant platforms.
    • Designate an individual or team within the district who stakeholders may contact with questions or comments regarding the district’s use of ESSER III funds (e.g. school board members, district grants manager, etc.). List the contact information for this individual or team on the school website including both a telephone number and email address – ideally, on a virtual hub of information pertaining to ESSER funds (as recommended above).
    • Download our letter to the Rochester School District: Recommendations for Meaningful Stakeholder Consultation Regarding ARP ESSER III Funds
  •  Rochester’s plan should distribute funding in an equitable manner to assist the students who need it the most, including students with disabilities. A letter with our specific recommendations regarding equitable funding is available here.

*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.


Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers for people with disabilities across New Hampshire. DRC is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for New Hampshire and has authority under federal law to conduct investigations in cases of probable abuse or neglect.

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