Burbio School Tracker: Week of 11/13 Slower in the Northeast

This week we look at California's latest ESSER III spending updates, topics covered in school board meeting minutes, and the relative pace of ESSER III spending in the Northeast versus the rest of the country.

1. Burbio has compiled ESSER III spending plans covering 83% of all K-12 students and tracks ESSER III "percent spent" nationally down to the district level. The Department of Education recently announced that states and districts can apply for a 14-month extension to spend funds, which can take the liquidation date for these funds into 2026. 

As we head into 2024 we evaluate the pace of spending by districts as reported by their respective states. States report on different timelines and those who haven't updated recently can skew the analysis, so we excluded states with older reporting dates. Our findings:

  • We examined 28 states that have reported since September 13th, 2023. Overall those 28 states reported spending 54.7% of their ESSER III funds.   
  • The majority of the states have spent between 40 and 60 percent of ESSER III funds. The highest was Arkansas at 77%.
  • LEAs were provided $110 billion through ESSER III. Projecting the 54.7% average out to states that lag in reporting means there would be just under $50 billion remaining as of this reporting period. 

One thing that struck us is that the states with the four lowest spending levels from the reporting group are all in the Northeast, and can be seen in the bar chart below. Connecticut, also in the chart below, is also well below the national average while being in the bottom half of the states we measured:

Northeast States ESSER III-1

It is worth noting that the three northeast states not shown above - Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island - were left off because their most recent reporting dates are before September 2023. That said, their reported spending from those earlier dates are also well below national averages. In short, all the data indicates that the Northeast is an outlier in the pace with which it is spending ESSER III dollars.

2. Burbio is now tracking school board meeting minutes covering over 50% of the K-12 public school population. School board meetings cover all facets of school district operations, and partners use the information to determine district intent around purchasing and policy decisions. This week we look at terminology used in board meetings based on district size. 

The analysis below covers only the most recent board meeting from over 1,700 districts with 25 million students. By measuring only the most recent board meeting we get particular insight into some of the more widely covered topics. 

The first term we look at is safety, mentioned in over 30% of district board meetings for districts over 3,000 students:

Board Docs - Safety
Another widely discussed subject is discipline. Below you can see the term reference increases in frequency with the larger districts: 

Board Docs - Discipline

Staffing appears in just under 20% of meetings for larger districts, while just under 10% of the time for smaller districts:  

Board Meetings - Staffing
A final example for this week is a highly specific academic term, Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Terms this precise don't appear as frequently as more broad-based industry language, but when they do it generally means a highly relevant initiative is being discussed for suppliers of these types of programs. In this case mid-sized districts mention IEP the most: 

Board Meetings - IEP
3.  California recently updated their ESSER III reporting on the amount each district has spent (and is included in the aggregate analysis above).   

  • Statewide, districts have spent just over 56% of their ESSER III funding as of the September 30th report.
  • In total, districts in California have $5.95 billion in unspent funds remaining.  
  • Nineteen districts in the state have over $50 million in ESSER III funding unspent. 

The chart below breaks down the number of districts and the amount they have remaining: 

California Dollars Remaining 9-30-23
Below is a breakout by decile of percent of allocation that has been spent: 

California Decile Analysis 9-30-23


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