What happens when states are allocated once-in-a-lifetime education funding during a global pandemic? Until recently, nobody knew, which meant that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law in the early days of the pandemic brought a fair amount of confusion along with its profound opportunity.
For Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), facilitating conversations about these funds and where they would end up meant building a public-facing dashboard that provided families and other stakeholders transparency into where funds were going and how much remained to be allocated.
Addressing uncertainty as education shifts
As illness tore through the world, Indiana and its school corporations met challenges at every turn while life came to a near standstill, with businesses shutting down and schools going virtual. The scramble to address shifts in daily functioning would take more than funding but certainly required that, too.
The CARES Act earmarked more than $2 trillion of federal aid, $13.2 billion of which was allocated to K-12 education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Two additional rounds of federal ESSER funding followed, providing schools with even greater financial resources to combat pandemic-related challenges. Pressure to utilize the funds was nearly instantaneous. Indiana needed a way to transparently display schools’ locally developed spending plans, and this would mean deploying new technology.
From Excel sheet to dashboard
Our team was on hand as IDOE developed processes first for communicating ESSER funding allocations to school corporations. An Excel spreadsheet was doing the job, but barely. A simple software solution could more easily track and share this vital funding information, and IDOE embraced the idea.
“With this unprecedented level of federal funding becoming available to Indiana schools, we know stakeholders at all levels are interested in knowing as much as possible about the amount of funding, the rate of spending, and the use of these dollars at the local level,” said John Keller, chief technology officer at IDOE.
IDOE’s Statewide COVID-19 Relief School Spending Dashboard launched on January 31, 2022. Resultant is actively helping IDOE transparently communicate district-level spending of COVID-19 relief funds empowering all stakeholders—including educators, families, communities, and beyond—with information on how schools are using this financial resource.
Read more about how we collaborated with state education leaders to build this important resource.