In the current climate, it can be difficult to determine the best way forward. Schools are closed, but the learning continues. You might be wondering if schools are still spending and, if so, what they are buying?
Derek Dallmann, Vice President of Sales at Agile Education Marketing has done some research and pulled together the latest information. In this post, you will find the latest details about the CARES ACT Emergency Relief Funds and how it is affecting the spending flexibility for schools.
Bottom line – schools have funds and are continuing to spend.
How can I maximize existing resources? Understand the level of funding available in certain districts and how schools can spend the dollars.
Make the most of your existing sales and support resources by prioritizing and targeting the best fit both in terms of need and funding. Then focus your efforts on current clients that may have an additional need, and then to prospective districts. Ensuring you have the support in place for new accounts will be critical at this time.
How do I make the most of this short-term opportunity? Narrow your ideal district and schools list, then work to optimize your outreach.
Decisions are being made quickly right now. Ensuring you are providing clear communication that is accessible is the key to connecting with the right people who can really use your services and expertise. Now. Breaking up your message and engaging in multi-channel marketing will increase your ability to get to the right educators and start working with them to solve immediate learning needs.
Use the Virtual Readiness Score from Agile.
Determine which schools are most ready to support online learning.
School Spending | Key Points & Recommendations
- Districts & LEAs will have more flexibility to use these funds to provide equal opportunity to student populations that are at a disadvantage (poverty, special needs, ELL, etc.). They need to do this because of ESEA (see below). The biggest inequity at this point is providing virtual/remote learning environments (devices/laptops, connectivity, video conferencing, curriculum, lesson plans, professional development, etc.).
- The funds will be allocated very quickly so when the funds are released districts can implement immediately. Now is the time to market services that enable set up and delivery of virtual learning solutions before districts and schools choose the right partner and allocate the CARES Act funds prior to the release of those funds.
For those districts and LEAs that have the capability for virtual learning, they still may have needed to upgrade their technology as well as curriculum and professional development to make the biggest impact on learning outcomes.
- Higher Education institutions are also facing similar challenges with transitioning to a virtual learning environment and about half of the CARES Act funding is focused on these types of institutions.
- Teachers as Consumers – We have seen a significant uptick in technology purchases by teachers out of pocket who are setting up their own home office. Many companies offer education discounts for teachers and students. This is a prime time to reach this audience to let them know of your education discounts.
How Agile Education Marketing Can Help.
We can target specific audiences by Title I, IDEA, ELL, and Agile’s new Virtual Readiness Score which takes numerous data points to help you reach those districts that have the greatest need.
Isolate the right District & School Leadership contacts including Superintendents, Asst. Superintendents, Principals, Technology Directors, Title I Directors, Special Needs Directors, School Board Presidents, ELL Directors, Federal Program Directors, Curriculum Directors.
We can provide the information for both the sales and marketing teams with direct-dial phone numbers, email, and key demographics to increase message relevance by identifying the implied needs of these institutions.
Targeting teachers as influencers and consumers through Agile’s database with contact information is also available (school/home email and social). Email and social advertising campaigns we have deployed over the past month has seen an increase in performance. There are several reasons for this:
- Teachers, administrators, professors, and educational institutions are actively looking for information and solutions that will help address their immediate and future challenges.
- Personnel that typically spend most of their day teaching in front of traditional classrooms are connected digitally more than ever.
- Many organizations have dialed back their marketing outreach which means that there is less competition in the inbox and on social channels.
CARES Act Overview – CARES Act Emergency Relief Funds
The CARES Act includes a $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund to address educational needs stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of that sum is designated for higher education, $3 billion for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and the rest ($13.5 billion) for an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. While the CARES Act includes maintenance of effort provision, requiring states receiving emergency relief funds to hold school funding at current levels in this and the upcoming fiscal year, the Act also allows U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to waive this requirement.
Most of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund – over $12 billion – will be distributed to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), that is, school districts and charter schools. States must allocate at least 90% to LEAs as subgrants in the proportion that the LEAs receive Title I funds. LEAs and states can use their allocations from this Emergency Relief Fund for a wide range of expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures.
The uses identified in the CARES Act include, but are not limited to:
- any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and other education statutes;
“[a]ctivities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth;”
- purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity);
- providing mental health services and supports; and
- “[p]lanning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the [IDEA] and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.”
Local districts also receive additional school spending flexibility on certain ESEA (Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 1965) provisions. The bill allows districts to request waivers to carry over more than 15% of their Title I allotment beyond the current fiscal year and to allow any school receiving Title I funds to operate under a schoolwide program.
Under the schoolwide approach, Title I dollars can be consolidated with state and local dollars to upgrade a school’s entire education program. The CARES Act also authorizes waivers that allow local districts increased flexibility on the use of ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Title IV-A funds, including lifting the limit that no more than 15% of Title IV-A funds can be used to purchase technology infrastructure.