January 31, 2024

Contact: Elleka Yost
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New ASBO Data Highlights ESSER Spending Priorities, Successes & Challenges

Ashburn, VA – As school districts spend down the final tranche of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) COVID-relief funds, families, policymakers, and other education stakeholders are eager to learn how these investments are helping schools recover and address a wide array of student needs.

To shed light on this issue, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) surveyed school business professionals in Fall 2023 about how districts are spending their funds so far and released the findings today in its latest survey report, “ESSER In Action: K-12 Spending Priorities, Successes & Challenges.”

This summary is the third iteration of ASBO International’s ESSER spending survey series and focuses on district ESSER II and III expenditures through September 30, 2023. Responses were collected from school business professionals representing 116 U.S. school districts across 38 states.

District finance and operations leaders shared their school system’s ESSER spending priorities and strategies for addressing student academic, health, and wellness and K-12 staffing needs. They also shared successes, challenges, and concerns about measuring academic progress, achieving long-term financial sustainability after ESSER, and shifting enrollment and attendance trends.

Key highlights are below; access the full survey summary at

  • The top three spending categories for ESSER II and III funds are:
    1. Addressing learning loss.
    2. Technology and broadband investments.
    3. Mental health services.
  • The top three factors influencing district spending decisions for ESSER II and III are:
    1. Rising student mental, social-emotional, and behavioral needs.
    2. Financial sustainability (avoiding a fiscal cliff).
    3. Declining test scores, scope of learning loss, or other evidence indicating the need for academic intervention.
  • The most popular spending strategy for addressing student academic recovery needs was expanding summer learning and enrichment programs. The most common strategy for supporting student health and wellness was investing in social-emotional learning, curricula, and practices.

  • The most popular strategy to address staffing needs was investing in professional development, followed by retaining current instructional and specialized support staff. The most common ESSER-funded positions are school counselors, psychologists, therapists, and nurses.

  • "As district leaders step up to the plate and seize the opportunities provided by ESSER, they are focusing on what matters most: student learning and well-being,” ASBO International Executive Director James Rowan, CAE, SFO, says. “Prioritizing academic intervention, technology for learning and instruction, and mental health reflect ASBO members’ commitment to educating the whole child. The challenge now is to sustain the progress made under ESSER once these funds end. We need strong local, state, and federal support for public education to continue doing what’s needed for our students.



    About ASBO International

    The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) provides programs, resources, services, and a global network to school business professionals who are the finance and operations decision makers in school systems. Our members manage school budgeting, purchasing, facility operations and maintenance, human resources, technology, transportation, food service, healthcare, and other areas of education administration and operations. ASBO International promotes the highest standards of school business management, professional growth, and the effective use of educational resources.