UPDATED May 10, 2011 - New information is underlined.
Earlier today, AASA met with key House committee staff for an overview of their first ESEA legislative proposal. This first piece, as previously reported, focuses on funding flexibility. Please note that legislative language is not yet available, and some changes may occur between this preliminary information and the bill itself. Everything reported here comes from discussions with committee staff. We will keep you up-to-date!
LEAs will have 100% flexibility in moving funds within and between ALL ESEA titles and programs. It is a full expansion of the limited and under-utilized transferability language currently in Title VI. Here's the text of a memo I sent to the executive directors of AASA state affiliates:
Earlier today, AASA Policy and Advocacy team members met with key staff of the House Education and the Workforce Committee (HEWC) for an initial overview on the House’s first proposal for ESEA reauthorization. AASA was the first education organization the committee staff met with. The proposal outlined below is subject to some minor tweaks, given that today’s meeting was the first unveiling.
The HEWC will move its first piece of its ESEA proposal within the next few weeks. It is hard to put a timeline on when we will see language, but it is very unlikely to be before Memorial Day. The first piece addresses local funding flexibility and looks to provide both state and local education agencies with complete flexibility when it comes to federal ESEA funding.
- SEAs and LEAs will have total flexibility to move money within and between ALL titles of ESEA. This includes all 90 programs within current law. School districts will be able to relocate and reassign federal ESEA funding dollars as they best see fit.
- Committee staff were quick to assert that this maximum flexibility is possible because there is an implicit trust (assumption) that the SEAs/LEAs will act in good faith to move funds in the manner that best meets the educational needs of their students.
- The HEWC proposal is an absolute expansion of the underutilized transferability language currently in Title VI. Unlike the legislative language currently in Title VI, however, ALL titles and programs within ESEA are ‘fair game’ for having money moved in to and out of.
- School districts would be able to move money into and out of Title I as they see fit.
- The reporting requirements for the various Titles and programs would remain the same. The only way an SEA or LEA would be exempt from reporting requirements would be if they transferred the full amount of their money from one title to another. For example, if you transfer 75% of your Title II funds out, you still need to comply with Title II reporting requirements for Title II. Should you transfer 100% of your funds from Title II, the reporting requirements would not apply. Any Title that has federal funds in it would be subject to reporting requirements.
- Regardless of the amount of funds transferred into or out of Title I or Title III, all Title I and III reporting requirements will remain intact. While there will be subsequent discussions about the proper structure of federal accountability requirements, this specific proposal addresses only the flexibility of funding and maintains current accountability/assessment requirements.
- All set asides will remain in place. This includes the 20% set-aside for SES and choice, the 10% set-aside for professional development, and the 1% set-aside for parental engagement. Future bills will address any changes/tweaks to the set-asides. Note: The absolute dollar amount of an LEA’s set-aside will be locked at a base year calculation so as to not tie-up transferred dollars. That is, should this bill become law in 2012, the amount of dollars and LEA sets aside in 2012 would remain flat in all out-years. Any dollars transferred in to a Title would not be subject to the set-aside requirement.
- One program outside of ESEA is impacted by the transferability: LEAs can move money from any title in ESEA into Part B of IDEA (this is expanded from just Section 613 F of IDEA (early intervening services)). This is the only non-ESEA title or program to which money can be transferred. Funds CANNOT be transferred from IDEA to ESEA.
- Funding flexibility does NOT apply to the Impact Aid funds.
- The increased flexibility comes with minimal reporting requirements. LEAs will have to report to the state, on an annual basis, which funds were transferred, to where, how much, and for what uses. SEAs will face similar reporting requirements. It is a simple reporting mechanism. LEAs will not have to apply for this flexibility, there is no approval process.
Based on the quick summary provided above, I am greatly interested in your feedback. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, and anticipate any hiccups or obstacles with this proposal. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking ahead, any changes to the proposal will be disseminated in a timely manner. Please keep in mind that this is the first of several individual pieces of ESEA reauthorization that the House will introduce. This piece is focused on flexibility. Within the meeting I asked about several of AASA’s other major concerns in ESEA (accountability/assessment, set asides, disaggregation, etc), and was assured there was room for those discussions in the coming bills.