What Are School Districts Using Federal Coronavirus Aid For?

Summary of Study

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) is a $13.2 billion allocation contained in the CARES Act to help schools deal with the effects of the coronavirus.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, $471.4 million was for direct allocation to 500 school districts and 167 charter schools under an existing federal formula. In cases where school districts have low-income students that attend non-public schools, the act requires districts to provide a portion of their allocation to those schools. This totaled $19.2 million from 387 of the state’s school districts.

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Feature Charticle

Allegheny Institute for Public Policy


  • In Allegheny County, the 43 school districts are to receive $28.8 million and the 25 charter schools in the county are to receive $3.9 million. Of the districts’ total, $1.7 million is reserved for the non-public school requirement.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education describes allocations as “one-time, emergency aid.”
  • If the items funded by ESSER dollars are maintained, it might fall to property taxes levied by school districts to provide the revenue.
  • With the chance of lower property tax collections as a result of the coronavirus, any future hikes could fall on fewer taxpayers in many school districts.

Read the full policy brief here