By: Dr. Kim Morton
Did you know hundreds of federal dollars go unspent every year in school districts? Some of the reasons include delayed access to the funds, a nationwide teacher shortage, and a desire to make the money last.
When I served as a district health and PE coordinator for a large urban school district in North Carolina, I never bought into the common excuse made by most school leaders: “We don’t have the money.” In my opinion, school funding is not the problem. It is the allocation of it that is the greater issue. To ensure federal funding is spent on supporting the needs of students, every school or district requires a health and PE advocate.
To help nudge my federal funding department to spend some of our district’s federal funds on health and PE, I created and applied the ABCD funding formula. In over five years, I was able to obtain over $4 million in federal funds to purchase curriculum, PE and strength training equipment, instructional resources, professional development, and hire staff to instruct summer learning sessions.
The first step before applying the ABCD funding formula is to know exactly what you want and how much it would cost. In other words, be ready to submit product names, descriptions, and costs to your federal funding department. If you need a quote, a School Health Specialist can help.
ABCD Federal Funding Formula for Health and Physical Education Requests
A = Align
Align your budget request with district messaging. Include language from your district’s strategic plan. For example, if one of your district’s initiatives is to increase mental, social, and emotional goals, then be sure to explain how your budget request fosters social, emotional, and collaborative student activities.
B = Budget source
Be sure to provide a possible budget source(s) with your request. This way, it provides guidance to your federal funding department regarding which budget sources can be used for your request. You do not need to be a budget expert, but you need enough knowledge to make it difficult to deny your request. Below are some examples of budget sources that can help you get started:
- Title I Federal Funding provides financial assistance and program support to schools with high numbers of children from low income-families.
- Title II Federal Funding can be spent on:
- Staff development
- Workshop expenses (this includes PE equipment and curriculum being used in the workshop training)
- Residency programs
- Induction program
- Title IV-part A can be spent on:
- PE and Strength Training equipment
- Student resources
- Evidence-based PD
- Travel costs
- Certified salaries and benefits
- ESSER II (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds must be used through September 30, 2023, and can be spent on:
- Covid-19 supplies
- Summer learning
- Educational technology
- Supplemental after-school programs
- Addressing needs of low-income students
- ARP (American Rescue Plan) ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds must be used through September 30, 2024, and can be spent on:
- Activities to address needs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic
- Implementing public health protocols
- 20% must address learning loss
C = Compelling Story
Make it hard for them to say “No.” Give them details of your budget request (purpose and how it will be used) and connect them emotionally. You want to inform your reader, but also inspire them to take action. For example, if you are seeking to purchase CPR manikins you would want to state, “performing CPR in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.”
D = Data
Identify student learning gaps and needs. Moreover, use local data to help decision makers “see” how your budget request can help address a local issue. For example, if you are requesting to purchase BRAINball™, your messaging should include how this product can increase your district’s reading and math scores. If you are requesting fitness equipment, you can pull student fitness data from WELNET® online software, indicating the percentage of students who met or did not meet fitness measurements.
Assert Your Case
Be prepared to showcase all the evidence and support needed for how funding can benefit not only your students, but also your school and district. To ensure federal funding is spent on supporting students’ physical, mental, emotional, and social needs, it is necessary for every school or district to have a health and PE advocate who is willing to work towards meeting these goals. Contact School Health to learn more about ESSER funding.