Imagine having access to billions of federal dollars and not using it. According to a Wall Street Journal report, that is precisely what is happening in K-12 schools across the country. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021 set aside about $122 billion in an elementary and secondary school emergency relief (ESSER) fund. Still, as of May 2022, only about 7% of that money has been spent.
The problem isn’t that educational institutions don’t know about the fund. Nor because they don’t need the money. The problem is figuring out where to spend the money before it all goes away in September 2024.
So, this begs the question, why are schools not taking advantage of the largest windfall in the history of government investment in schools?
Why Haven’t K-12 Schools Used ARP Funds?
It’s the temporary nature of the funding that K-12 schools are struggling with. While schools across the country are trying to staff up, they don’t want to use the funds to hire more teachers if they can’t afford to keep them when the funds disappear in a couple of years.
Therefore, many schools are reportedly electing to spend ARP funds on COVID testing, new ventilation systems, and new technology.
Upgrading a school’s ventilation system is desperately needed, considering the prevalence of airborne transmissible viruses in classrooms. It is an expensive endeavor that many schools only dream of doing. Unfortunately, while the money is available via ARP funds, supply chain issues and a labor shortage in the HVAC industry have made the upgrades difficult to schedule.
How Can K-12 Schools Spend ARP Funds?
Technology to support the K-12 students and workforce is not hampered by supply chain availability and meets ARP ESSER criteria. FutureEd ran the numbers and found that as of June 2022, school districts and charter schools have invested almost $6 billion in much-needed tech tools and upgrades. According to a Lanschool study, 91% of educators surveyed said they are using 3+ digital tools regularly, and almost a third of them also said more tools would be helpful.
For example, some schools are using funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and devices for students without connectivity for remote learning, as well as support for educators in the effective use of technology. Going hand in hand with more connectivity, schools are also investing in cybersecurity tools and expertise.
Anticipating a continuation of hybrid and remote learning in the future, schools are also purchasing technology such as digital whiteboards and enhanced audio capabilities for a more collaborative and participatory classroom.
Outside the classroom, there is technology to aid in the administration of the entire K-12 workforce. Maybe you always wanted to invest in a workforce management system or bring the one you have into the 21st century but didn’t have the funds to do it. Now is a perfect time.
TimeClock Plus Solutions for K-12 Schools
TimeClock Plus has thousands of K-12 customers who enjoy the benefits of our time and attendance software. Two of those benefits address key pain points you might be experiencing today—leave management and substitute management.
TimeClock Plus makes substitute management a breeze by eliminating the manual process of finding substitutes. Automated notifications are sent out to available and preferred substitutes. Once they accept the position, the posting is removed, so there are no worries about double-booking.
TimeClock Plus can also help you track your Title 1 and grant activities. Our automated time tracking streamlines the process by assigning employee time to the correct budget making sure you’re using the funds as planned.
We also have hardware tools that help you manage your time and attendance. Over the past couple of years, our core time clock with a thermal sensor attachment has been in demand. This clock has helped customers monitor employee health using a touchless temperature reader.
TimeClock Plus has been helping thousands of K-12 schools with their unique workforce management challenges for decades. Our flexible K-12 solution is designed to automate and streamline time-consuming tasks, including payroll and simplify absence and substitute management packaged in a simple and elegant interface.
Don’t let a $122 billion windfall go to waste when you need it the most. Learn more about TCP’s K-12 solutions for streamlining processes so you can spend more time on what matters most—your students.