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January 16, 2024

News Round Up

USED Announces $47 Million in New Funding to Support School Infrastructure Investments

On January 4, the USED announced eight new grant programs totaling $47 million awarded to states to increase state capacity to support underserved school districts to improve their school facilities by conducting facility needs assessments, hiring new staff, and developing or improving public school infrastructure data systems.


EPA and Electric Buses

Click here for related recent news about EPA’s financial support to districts for shifting to electric/low-emissions school buses.)


Exclusive Data: Thousands of Schools at Risk of Closing Due to Enrollment Loss

New article from The74. Districts from Philadelphia to Los Angeles have large numbers of schools that lost at least 20% of their students during the pandemic.


New Report Shows Millions of Rural Students Facing Multiple Crises After COVID

This article from The74 summarizes a recent Why Rural Matters report, which presents findings from the challenges faced by rural students, including lack of basic internet access, access to gifted programs, school funding disparities, and others for school districts to consider. 



Legislative Update

USED Releases Process Document for ARP Late Liquidation

On Tuesday of last week, the USED released a letter to State Chiefs announcing the formal process for applying for additional time to spend down contracted services funded through ARP aka ESSER III. This process is unfortunately the same one that they used for ESSER I and ESSER II meaning that it is a cumbersome and difficult administrative process for SEAs and will make it challenging for many to apply for more time on behalf of LEAs.

The good news is that in the FAQ document they re-released, they clarified that districts can continue contracted activities for an additional 14 months beyond Sept 2024 as long as 1) the binding written contract was made by ARP’s obligation deadline of September 30, 2024; 2) the project relates to an allowable activity; and 3) the additional time to liquidate funds is consistent with all state, local, and federal spending rules.

A district shouldn’t look at this and say “oh great, I automatically have more time to complete this construction project” because again, they need to meet these three requirements above AND the SEA has to agree to apply for late liquidation (and to do the associated paperwork which is quite burdensome) in order to make the request and for the district to receive the OK from the USED. But, it should assuage some concern that there is now a real pathway forward to extend contracts and LEAs should definitely start to ping the SEAs and let them know that they want liquidation extensions if they believe they meet these 3 criteria above.


What 2024 Will Bring for K-12 Policy?

This article by EdWeek highlights five key K-12 legislative issues predicted to impact schools directly in 2024, including school choice, teacher pay, AI concerns, curriculum design, and student achievement measures. 


State Level Advocacy Event!

"Amplifying your Impact:  Mastering Effective State Advocacy”
FREE to AESA Members
One-Hour State Advocacy Webinar

This 60-minute  presentation will delve into the art of effective state advocacy, emphasizing the pivotal role of state-level engagement with legislatures, state agencies, and rulemaking authorities.


March 7, 2024
11 a.m.- 12 Noon EST

Presented by: Craig Burford


Advocacy at the state level can yield substantial policy changes and is often a catalyst for broader national shifts. This session will equip attendees with essential strategies and insights to navigate the complexities of state-level advocacy, helping them make a meaningful impact on the issues they are passionate about. Whether they are an educator, administrator, advocate, lobbyist, or concerned citizen, they will leave with a toolkit to drive change at the state level and beyond. 


Spotlight: Program Evaluation Network

Did you know AESA has a Network for ESA professionals who share a common interest in improving the quality and effectiveness of programs and services through systematic and rigorous methods of data collection, analysis, display and reporting? The Program Evaluation Network is designed as a way for members to exchange ideas, experiences, resources and best practices related to program evaluation, as well as to collaborate on joint projects, solve common problems, and support professional learning.


At their most recent meeting, the Program Evaluation Network discussed strategies and shared tools for conducting 360 evaluations. Experiences with this kind of evaluation varied, including developing custom, local instruments with Google tools to working with a vendor like Qualtrics, utilizing their bank of questions and survey platform to manage the process. 


The Program Evaluation Network meets quarterly via Zoom and is facilitated by Christopher Thompson, Data Specialist from South East Education Cooperative in Fargo, ND. Members of this network include program evaluators, researchers, consultants, practitioners, and leaders who are involved in or interested in learning more about program evaluation. 


The next meeting is Thursday, January 18th at 2:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM CT / 12:00 PM MT / 11:00 AM PT. If you have interest in participating in the AESA Program Evaluation Network, please contact Sheila King, AESA Chief Program Officer <>.


Happening Soon! Come Join Us

Small Staff ESA Community of Practice


Topic: Best Practices in Strengthening Relationships With Your Board

Date:: February 8, 2024, 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central; 12 noon Mountain; 11 am Pacific; 10 am Alaska) time


Presentation Description: Strengthening board dynamics is a shared responsibility, one that is built upon trust and communication between the executive director and each board member. This interactive session will focus on practical strategies to promote strong board relationships to ensure well-informed and proficient governance practices that enhance accountability, transparency, and student success. 


Presenter: Valentina (Tina) Viletto, JD

Ms. Viletto currently serves as AESA Foundation Coordinator, after serving for twelve years as the director of community and government relations for the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit 23 (MCIU) in Pennsylvania. She has extensive experience in education legislation and policy issues, as well as district and ESA board service, training and consultation.


If you aren't a member of this Community of Practice but would like to attend this session, please contact AESA Program Assistant Beth Kabes to register at the rate of $25. 



Federal Advocacy Committee

Registration is now open for the Virtual Federal Advocacy Committee Meetings on January 24-25, 2024. The Federal Legislative Advocacy Meeting is free and open only to AESA Members. Come be a part of the future! 


Business Strategy Framework

Register Now for February Workshop 

The AESA Business Strategy Framework is a powerful tool that will help your leaders assess new opportunities and evaluate existing services. The framework provides a consistent approach to strategic marketing or understanding what markets/services your organization should be in and why. The framework sets your team on the right path to discovering game-changing insights about the services they offer by focusing on three specific areas with questions designed to encourage deeper thinking that will uncover previously unrecognized keys to success.


Location: Westmoreland IU 7, 102 Equity Dr., Greensburg, PA



  • February 21  |  8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • February 22  |  8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Registration Fee:

  • Individuals: $1,500
  • Team of 3 or more: $1,000 per person

The Reading Leaders Book Club! 

As lifelong readers and leaders, we all know the importance of reading and literacy, well beyond the pre-k12 classroom where it is often assigned. Reading Leaders AESA Executive Director Dr. Joan Wade and Janelle Bailey invite you to join the AESA Reading Leaders Book Club.  The club meets every third Thursday of the month to discuss the latest book.

To join: Contact Ann Fiene 

Next meeting: All My Rage, by Sabaa Tahir

January 18, 2024:  7 pm Eastern (6 pm Central; 5 pm Mountain; 4 pm Pacific; 3 pm Alaska)

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