Thank you to those who joined my December 19th webinar, The Consultation Process: Getting a Handle on Funding, on the topic of funding for equitable services. The goal—and I hope it was accomplished—was to focus just on the funding aspects of consultation and provide you with tools and ideas to ensure that you know the funding amount for each of the programs and how it was determined.
If you missed the webinar, The Consultation Process: Getting a Handle on Funding, you can view the recorded webinar and a PDF of the slide presentation. Additionally, recording of all webinars can be found on the Webinars page of Equitable Services MDEC.
One way to help ensure transparency in funding discussions during consultation is to use worksheets that are completed together, or sent in advance to the LEA. If sent in advance, the LEA can complete some of the information or at least bring the necessary information into the consultation meeting for the discussion. The following is an example of a funding projection worksheet for Title I:
Another funding topic that is new under ESSA is carryover, which applies to all programs providing equitable participation and around which there is some question. As I mentioned during the webinar, the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance mentions “extenuating circumstances” but does not define it. Several ombudsmen with whom I’ve spoken have said that they have worked on their own definition of this term when providing assistance in their states. To assist you in having the best available information about this issue, below is the guidance on the topic from the U.S. Department of Education.
New Requirement: Obligation of Funds
Funds allocated to an LEA for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school children, teachers and other educational personnel, and families must be obligated in the fiscal year for which the funds are received by the LEA.
(ESEA sections 1117(a)(4)(B) and 8501(a)(4)(B).)
N-6. What is the purpose of this requirement given that an LEA may carry over funds from a given fiscal year and spend those funds in the succeeding fiscal year?
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that an LEA uses the funds available under Title I or a covered program under Title VIII to provide equitable services in the fiscal year for which the funds were appropriated to ensure that eligible students, teachers and other educational personnel, and families receive the services to which they are entitled in a timely manner. This provision reinforces the requirement that an LEA conduct timely consultation with private school officials to design appropriate equitable services so that those services can begin at the beginning of the school year for which the funds are appropriated.
An SEA must provide notice in a timely manner to appropriate private school officials in the State of the allocation of funds for educational services and other benefits under each ESEA program that an LEA has determined are available for eligible private school children, teachers and other educational personnel, and families.
(ESEA sections 1117(a)(4)(C) and 8501(a)(4)(C).)
N-7. May an LEA carry over unobligated funds despite this new statutory requirement regarding obligation of funds?
In general, to ensure that equitable services are provided in a timely manner, an LEA must obligate the funds allocated for equitable services under all applicable programs in the year for which they are appropriated. (ESEA sections 1117(a)(4)(B) and 8501(a)(4)(B).) There may be extenuating circumstances, however, in which an LEA is unable to obligate all funds within this timeframe in a responsible manner. Under these circumstances, the funds may remain available for the provision of equitable services under the respective program during the subsequent school year. In determining how such carryover funds will be used, the LEA must consult with appropriate private school officials.(ESEA sections 1117(b) and 8501(c).)
Finally, to further ensure transparency about funding information, ESSA requires that each state take the responsibility to inform private school officials in a timely manner and on a yearly basis the amount of equitable funds in each of the programs: Titles I, IIA, III, and IVA and IVB. Does your state do this? If this has not happened in the past, now is the time to request that this information be provided to you for 2019–20. The U.S. Department of Education guidance on this issue is as follows.
N-8. What information must an SEA include in the notice of allocation that the SEA must provide to private school officials?
An SEA must annually provide information on the amount of funds, by program, allocated for equitable services under Title I and each covered program under section ESEA section 8501(b) that each LEA responsible for providing equitable services has determined are available for eligible private school students, teachers and other educational personnel, and families. Such documentation should indicate how the allocation was determined.
N-9. How should an SEA disseminate the notice of allocation?
An SEA should consult with appropriate private school officials to determine an effective manner for disseminating the notice of allocation to appropriate private school officials, which may include notification through the ombudsman. An SEA may consider methods such as publicly posting this information on the SEA’s website, using an email distribution list of private school officials, or other method that will ensure that this information is available to appropriate private school officials.
N-10. When should an SEA disseminate the notice of allocation?
An SEA should consult with LEAs and appropriate private school officials to determine a reasonable timeline for providing the notice of allocation. In general, an SEA should ensure that the notice is provided prior to the beginning of the school year.
I hope that the webinar and this follow up information helps you during consultation to discuss funding for each of the programs in an informed and meaningful way. You can access a recording of the webinar by going to www.equitableservicesmdec.com/webinars.
Please plan to join my January 29th webinar at 4 pm ET. If the new U.S. Department of Education guidance is available, the topic for January will be this new guidance. If the guidance is not available, the topic will be, The Consultation Process: Developing and Using a Needs Assessment Effectively.