On Jan. 6, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Education received $1,230,971,757 for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II) under the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Of these funds, 90% was awarded to local educational agencies to be used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. While both the NJDOE and the United States Department of Education encourage LEAs to spend and liquidate these funds with urgency, the USDOE acknowledges that some grantees may require flexibility liquidating remaining ESSER II funds under the CRRSA Act that are properly obligated by the Sept. 30, 2023, deadline. Accordingly, the NJDOE is offering a liquidation extension request process for immediate use by LEAs, according to an advisory.

The NJDOE is required to submit all approved late liquidation requests to the USDOE on behalf of LEAs approved to request late liquidation. The process, outlined below, ensures strong accountability for the use of funds and important safeguards for both the NJDOE and LEAs. Under 2 CFR § 200.344(b), the USDOE has the authority to approve liquidation extension requests for properly obligated funds upon review of a written request made by the NJDOE. Final approval of the NJDOE’s written request will be based upon the specific facts and circumstances, in accordance with 2 CFR § 200.344(b). If approved by the USDOE under this process, LEAs may have an extension to the liquidation period of up to 14 months.

Late liquidation is based on individual, properly obligated, purchase orders and cannot be entertained for obligated amounts due to poor planning or fiscal management. It is the expectation of the NJDOE that each LEA is liquidating all obligations prior to the Oct. 18, 2023, due date of the final expenditure report in accordance with this April 5, 2023 broadcast memo. Each late liquidation request must be tied to an ongoing project and have a strong justification as to why the purchase order will not be liquidated prior to the final expenditure report submission. The liquidation extension does not cover all types of costs, i.e., indirect costs, staff salary or travel, due to the federal rules defining when an obligation was made; therefore, these costs cannot be included in a late liquidation request.

All late liquidation requests will be thoroughly scrutinized and must include all relevant facts, documents, and a valid justification to be considered for approval. Also note that requests must be aligned to items and projects that are part of the approved grant application for these funds. No additional budget amendments can be completed at this time.

To request late liquidation, LEAs must access the preliminary application via the NJDOE’s Homeroom webpage in the folder entitled “ESSER II Late Liquidation.” Completed preliminary applications must be submitted through Homeroom no later than Sept. 30, 2023.

NJDOE’s County Education Offices will review preliminary applications. Approved applications will be granted access to the full late liquidation application in the Electronic Web-Enabled Grant System. All EWEG applications must be submitted to the NJDOE no later than Oct. 2, 2023.

Further details and application instructions can be found in the full advisory.