Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds

NC State Plan for the ARP ESSER Fund

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Fund provides nearly $122 billion to states to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic on the Nation's students by addressing students' academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Of this amount, NC received $3.6 billion. 

The NC State Plan outlines how the state will implement the grant program and track its outcomes.

ARP ESSER NC Plan 10-31-2021

North Carolina ARP ESSER State Plan Conditions Removal Approval Letter 6.23.23 (signed)

ARP ESSER NC Plan 05-20-21 DRAFT

ARP ESSER NC Plan 06-24-21 Final

ARP ESSER NC Plan 08-31-2021

Reminders on ESSER Funded Construction Projects.

Covid Relief Monies can be used for construction, renovation, repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.

As Public School Units begin to use these funds for projects, please remember to review and apply procurement and project related Uniform Guidance (UG), EDGAR and State procurement laws (for LEAs) and Capital Project Submittal and Review requirements. As a reminder, guidance related to the federal requirements and project submittal and review requirements can be found on the DPI COVID Fund page: Federal Requirements for Federally Funded Construction Activity Guide .

Some of the construction requirements from the EDGAR regulations noted in the guidance state the grantee must:

  • Have title or other interest in the site, including right of access, that is sufficient to ensure that the grantee will have use and possession of the facility for 50 years or the useful life of the facility, whichever is longer;
  • Consider the probable effects of proposed construction on any district, site, building, or structure that is included or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places;
  • Ensure the construction is functional, economical, and not elaborate in design or extravagant in the use of materials as compared to other facilities in the State or other applicable geographic area;
  • Ensure plans and designs for the facilities comply with applicable Federal, State and local health and safety standards, as well as Federal requirements regarding access by persons with disabilities;
  • Ensure the grantee has sufficient operational funds to operate and maintain the facility once the construction is complete; and
  • HVAC work must be in accordance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Please review the guidance for additional requirements. We will be discussing this topic at the NCASBO conference and will plan a future webinar as well. If any questions, please contact Shirley McFadden at Shirley.McFadden@dpi.nc.gov

Construction Management at Risk, Design Build Service Procurement and Federal Grant Funds

Uniform Guidance and the U.S. Department of Education will require competition and the consideration of price in procurement related to construction expenditures using ESSER funds. This requirement applies to the selection of a design-build services, surveying, and construction management at risk, and public-private partnership construction services. However, North Carolina General Statute § 143-64.31 requires the selection of these types of services based on competence and qualifications without consideration of price. Local Education Agencies and other State Agencies must follow this State statute in their procurement practices.

NC Department of Public Instruction is responsible for ensuring subrecipients expend federal grant funds in compliance with the Uniform Guidance and the expectations established by the U.S. Department of Education. Construction procurement practices using ESSER funding will need to comply with the established Uniform Guidance to be deemed an allowable cost. The procurement method will be considered noncompliant if DPI conducts a review and the LEA, or other State Agency, does not consider price in the procurement process. There are other options available for the procurement and delivery of construction projects that would be in compliance with State laws and the Uniform Guidance. Consider a discussion with your attorney to identify the best way to proceed with your procurement approach for construction projects.

Please contact Shirley McFadden at Shirley.McFadden@dpi.nc.gov , Monitoring and Compliance Manager, if there are any questions.

Architecture and Engineering Services and Federal Funds

Uniform Guidance allows for the selection of architecture and engineering services where price is not a selection factor. § 200.320 The non-Federal entity may use competitive proposal procedures for qualifications-based procurement of architectural/engineering (A/E) professional services whereby offeror's qualifications are evaluated and the most qualified offeror is selected, subject to negotiation of fair and reasonable compensation. The method, where price is not used as a selection factor, can only be used in procurement of A/E professional services. It cannot be used to purchase other types of services through A/E firms that are a potential source to perform the proposed effort.

ESSER Capital Expenses and Prior Approvals

Prior Written Approval Required for Capital Expenditures

The ESSER I, ESSER II, and ESSER III Funds are subject to the Uniform Grants Guidance (Uniform Guidance) regulations. Uniform Guidance requirements state that capital expenditures for general purpose equipment (with a unit cost of $5,000 or more), buildings and land, including material improvements to buildings and land, are allowable as direct costs only with prior written approval of the federal awarding agency or pass-through entity, as found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in 2 CFR 200.439. Please ensure that your organization has identified planned capital expenditures in the allowable use table of the ESSER I, ESSER II, and/or ESSER III application. The approved plan gives DPI’s approval as to the allowability of what is presented in the plan. If plans change, and a capital expenditure need is identified after the application is approved, the application must be amended, and planned use of the funds must be approved prior to any funds being spent on a capital expenditure. Documentation of this approval should be maintained as support showing prior approval and allowability of the purchase as a direct cost of the program. Next steps should be followed as outlined below accordingly.

DPI Capital Project Submittal and Review Requirements After Allowability Approval

ESSER and Child Nutrition Funds

ESSER I, II, and III funds can be used for atypical child nutrition related expenses that are a result of COVID. With the additional child nutrition expenses associated with summer school due to COVID, there may also be eligible excess meal related expenses if the federal School Lunch Program and Breakfast Program reimbursement doesn’t cover the total cost. Things to remember when using these funds for child nutrition expenses:

  1. If your organization is considering using ESSER funds for child nutrition related purposes, please ensure your application has indicated this type of usage. 
  2. ESSER funds should not be used to cover the expenses that are already reimbursed through the Department of Agriculture School Lunch Program and Breakfast Program meal reimbursement revenue. To determine if there are excess costs associated with the meal costs and avoid duplicate payments, on a monthly basis the organization must:

    Determine Current Actual Meal Expenditures

    Less: Actual Meal Reimbursement Revenue (received in current month for the prior month)

    Less: Meal Reimbursement Revenue Remaining from the prior month reconciliation

    Equals: Excess Costs or Additional Meal Reimbursement Revenue 

  3. Atypical child nutrition related expenses that are not allowable or typically reimbursed under the meal reimbursement revenue, can be directly charged to ESSER, if approved in the plan and funds are available.

The Child Nutrition Division can provide additional guidance related to the monthly reconciliation if needed and Federal Programs should be contacted for ESSER related questions.

ESSER/GEER FAQ for Allowable Uses-Released May 26th by US Dept. of ED

The Use of Funds FAQ document can be found on the following webpages:

American Rescue Plan ESSER Resources page: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/american-rescue-plan/american-rescue-plan-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief/resources/

Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) ESSER webpage: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/governors-emergency-education-relief-fund/

ESF GEER webpage: https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/governors-emergency-education-relief-fund/

ESSER II & III Webinar Updates-PRC 173 and 182

ESSER II and III Updates-July 7, 2021

Recording link: https://ncgov.webex.com/ncgov/ldr.php?RCID=fc0edc60cad7d7f56bee86100ab59536

Password: Vc2UDHAm

ESSER II (PRC 171) Resources

COVID Funding Information Website

ESSER II and ESSER III Technical Assistance Webinar.pdf

ESSER II Technical Assistance Webinar Recording Link:


Password: fMAKYXh2

ESSER II (PRC 172) Supplementation Funds for Charters Resource

ESSER II PRC 172 Technical Assistance Webinar.pdf

ESSER II PRC 174 and PRC 176/177 CCIP Technical Assistance Webinar

ESSER II PRC 174 and PRC 176/177 Webinar PDF


Password: eKfweJA7

PRC 178 iReady/Competency Based Assessment (CBA) Funding

May 18 PRC 178 Webinar Recording:


Password: Nws3FVNr

PRC 178 Resource Files:

ESSER III (PRC 181) Resources

COVID Funding Information Website

ARPA ESSER III Office of Elementary & Secondary Education Website

ARPA ESSER III Interim Final Rule Issued April 22, 2021-*IMPORTANT*

USED Releases Updated ARPA Information April 21, 2021

ESSER III Technical Assistance Webinar April 12 2021.pdf


Final ESSER Planning Guide-FPMS.docx

Final ESSER Planning Guide-FPMS.pdf

ESSER II & III Application Assignments.pdf

ESSER III Technical Assistance Webinar Recording Links:

Afternoon https://ncgov.webex.com/ncgov/ldr.php?RCID=8a9da477d794589e0bb18ad94aa1fa65

Password: Nvfm6mN7 


Password: 4Cc4UppP


Tab/Accordion Items

Maintenance of Equity (MoEquity)

Information from USED



NC MoEquity Data

North Carolina LEAs exempt from MoEquity Testing:

"Highest quartile of schools in each North Carolina LEA by poverty:

North Carolina's ARP MoEquity Calculations:

School Operational Status

As part of American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) compliance requirements, metrics about the number of NC schools operating in remote, hybrid, or live-in-person modes will be provided on a regular basis.

LEA Return to in-person Instruction

NCDPI ESSER III District URLs for Return-to-School Plans_November 5, 2021

LEA Uses of Funds Plan

PSU Combined PRC 181 Apps

Charter Combined PRC 181 Apps

Notice regarding CARES-ESSER Equitable Services, as of September 24, 2020:

Until more specific updated guidance can be provided here, please consult the weekly Federal Program Monitoring and Support Updates for recent information about changes in ESSER equitable servcies in the wake of the US Department of Education’s invalidated Interim Final Rules. For calculation of ESSER proportionate, please use the Title I tab of the Proportionate Share Calculator on our equitable services web page. (The ESSER allotment, instead of the Title I allotment should be used for the calculation.)


As of 9/29/20, information previously appearing here regarding CARES-ESSER Equitable Services has been removed. Updated information on this topic can now be found on DPI's equitable services web page.