Back to school focus this year is on overcoming learning gaps due to the pandemic

FOR RELEASE: August 24, 2022

As school districts in New York begin the new school year, more than three-quarters (77%) plan on spending Covid-19 recovery funding they received from the federal government to address the impact of the pandemic on students, particularly learning gaps due to interrupted instruction, according to an analysis by the New York State School Boards Association.

"School districts are still finding their footing after two-and-a-half years of the pandemic," said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider. "The federal funding that schools have received from the American Rescue Plan and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan along with state foundation aid funding, will go a long way toward addressing many of the unintended consequences brought on by school closures and remote learning."

Much of the focus of federal ARP-ESSER funding will be on low-income students, children with disabilities, English language learners and homeless students. A little more than 72% of districts plan on offering summer, afterschool and other extended learning and enrichment programs, while 72% plan to implement strategies to meet students' social, emotional, mental health and academic needs.

The 2022-23 school year is the second of three years in which school districts may spend their federal funding. ARP allowed them to spread their use of federal funding over three school years, beginning in 2021-22 and ending in the 2023-24 school year. School districts in New York must spend their funding on non-recurring expenses in any of nine broad areas outlined by state lawmakers. NYSSBA analyzed plans submitted to the State Education Department by 668 school districts across the state.

Smaller percentages of school districts also plan on using at least part of their federal funding in 2022-23 on safely returning students to in-person instruction (45%), purchasing education technology (43%) and maximizing in-person instructional time (32%). About one in six districts (16%) are using their additional funding to support early childhood education.

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