ISBE to ask Dept. of Ed to use ESSER funds to cover funding gap

(WAND) — WAND News reported on an Illinois State Board of Education budget error that may result in 12,000 kids losing access to afterschool and summer programming. Now, ISBE is asking the U.S. Department of Education to dip into other covid funds, in order to cover the funding gap.

ISBE relesed the following statement to WAND News:

“ISBE awarded 21st Century Community Learning Centers grantees in FY 2019 at $9.7 million per year for five years. The five-year grant cycle for this cohort concludes this year in FY 2023. There is not federal funding available to offer renewals or to offer a new grant competition for FY 2024. Renewals are not guaranteed, and every grantee includes a sustainability plan in their application identifying the resources available to maintain and continue programming once the grant concludes.

Given the availability of funding in past years for renewals, we understand that grantees expected the same opportunity in FY 2024. However, in recent years, ISBE allowed grantees to carry over the unspent balance from the previous year’s grant into the next fiscal year due to the pandemic and ran new grant competitions. ISBE did not adequately forecast the fiscal impact of these programmatic decisions, resulting in an overcommitment of funds and late notice to this FY 2019 cohort of grantees that there would not be sufficient funding for renewals or a new competition in FY 2024. We recognize the challenges that this untimely communication has caused and we are providing technical assistance, guidance, and support to grantees regarding sustainability outside of new 21st CCLC grant funding. 

ISBE projects that the overcommitment of funds could result in a shortfall of up to $15 million, depending on the final expenditures from Project Year 2023 grants. ISBE has reached out to the U.S. Department of Education about utilizing ARP ESSER state set aside funds to address the shortfall. This would allow ISBE to meet its obligations to grantees in FY 2024, but would still not make a renewal or new grant competition possible for FY 2024 for those grantees whose five-year grant cycle concludes in FY 2023. Renewals and new competitions are never guaranteed and are only offered in years when sufficient funds are available. (ISBE did not offer new 21st CCLC Grant competitions in about half of the last 10 years.) 

The 21st CCLC grants are designed to initiate new programming and are not intended to sustain programming long-term, which is why each grantee’s application includes a sustainability plan explaining how the grantee will continue programming after the grant concludes. We are committed to better forecasting and to better and more timely communication with grantees to keep this situation from occurring in the future.”

ISBE shared that other state and federal funds are available to support afterschool programming. That includes the following:

  • After School Programs—$20 Million    
  • After School Matters—$4 Million  
  • CURE After School Programs—$10 Million  
  • CURE Phillip Jackson Freedom Schools—$17 Million  
  • ARP Community Partnership Grant—$100 Million   
  • ARP ESSER SEA Reserve—$50.5 Million  
  • ARP Learning Loss 20% Requirement—$910 Million 

Schools are required to reserve 20% of their ARP ESSER Award for activities related to learning loss, which includes after school programming

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April 27, 2023 at 09:12PM

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