January 26, 2019(1)

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USED Releases Non-Binding Guidance on Supplement, Not Supplant Provision in ESSA Title I

As if the temporary end of the shutdown wasn’t exciting enough, on Friday, USED contributed to a busy education-policy new cycle by releasing non-binding guidance related to the supplement, not supplant provisions of ESSA Title I.

 

  • Background: ‘Supplement, not supplant’ (SNS) is a provision in federal law designed to ensure that federal funds are in addition to—not in place of—state and local dollars. The guidance released on Friday applies only to ESSA Title I, but not to other federal education programs that may have separate SNS provisions. Under NCLB, the SNS provisions had been beefed up to a level that was burdensome and unnecessarily complicated. While the core provision remains unchanged from NCLB to ESSA, the big change is that under ESSA, no LEA can be required to identify that an individual cost or service is supplemental. This provision rules out requiring an LEA to use the three presumptions to comply with the supplement not supplant requirement, which were based on an analysis of individual costs. LEAs no longer have to demonstrate SNS at the individual cost or service level. Congressional Research Service released a good primer on SNS in early 2015.
  • New Guidance: The guidance released by USED is a very light touch, especially compared to the regulations proposed under the Obama administration. The guidance released on Friday aligns much more closely with the guidance document that had been released in the summer of 2015 (before ESSA was even reauthorized!) You’ll recall AASA had deepreservations regarding the Obama regs, which mandated equalized spending and would have resulted in forced transfers, among other concerns. The new guidance avoids those traps, also clarifies that LEAs do not have to publicly disclose their SNS methodology on their websites, but does clarify that LEAs can’t simply use their per-pupil spending to demonstrate compliance with SNS. The guidance includes sample methods LEAs can use in demonstrating SNS, clarifies that list is not finite, and reiterates that USED cannot mandate the SNS methodology.

 

You can read the guidance here.


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