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Investing in Sustainability

How Hartford Public Schools is planning strategically to use their ESSER funds

ESSER funding provides an unprecedented influx of new resources at a time when the urgency of student need is higher than ever in recent memory. This federal aid offers an opportunity to create new, equity-focused ways of supporting students and teachers and invest in redesign that will sustain significant long-term improvement.

ESSER presents tremendous opportunity, but it comes with the challenge of investing new resources strategically and sustainably. With the immediate recovery needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be increased pressure to spend the money quickly, before creating strong processes to determine how best to invest these funds or track the impact of these investments. It's crucial that school systems do not use stimulus funds simply to pad budget shortfalls, reinvest in the status quo, or add temporary approaches that will disappear when the money runs out.

To help schools and districts leverage ESSER funding, ERS developed 7 Principles for Investing Federal Stimulus Dollars, a framework that uses a "do now, build toward" approach to make a sustainable, equitable plan for learning recovery and redesign. Following the principles can lead to lasting transformation for students coming out of this pandemic year. 

We are asked all the time: "What does using these principles look like in practice? Who is doing this well?" So, we wanted to share an example from Hartford Public Schools, one of our partner districts. HPS leadership recognized the importance of using ESSER funds to invest in sustainable strategies for their students and staff. To achieve this, they created a plan that considers state priorities, stakeholder feedback, and recovery "must-wins" to guide them toward high-impact use of federal dollars. Check out the slides below for a look at a strategic ESSER plan.
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