Teachers of Tomorrow: Science, Mathematics, Bilingual Education, and English as a New Language Tuition Reimbursement Program - Questions and Answers
Q1. Would this funding replace the Science, Mathematics, and Bilingual Tuition Reimbursement Program from the current TOT (which the District has already been awarded), or is this in addition to that award?
A1. Although the two programs are funded under the same state appropriation, NYSED is operating TOT as a separate program from TOT Science, Mathematics, and Bilingual Tuition Reimbursement Program. One does not replace the other.
Q2. Does tuition reimbursement from the TOTSMBE grant replace the need to request tuition reimbursement from Category E in the original TOT grant? Are there any differences between the two grant reimbursement categories (other than reimbursement maximum)?
A2. NYSED is operating TOT as a separate program from TOT Science, Mathematics, and Bilingual Tuition Reimbursement Program. One does not replace the other. Please review the requirements carefully, as there are several differences, such as the reimbursement maximum, the list of allowable expenditures, and the inclusion of English to Speakers of Other Languages in the list of eligible certificate areas.
Q3. Can a teacher receive the Recruitment Incentive under the 2017-2021 TOT grant and tuition reimbursement under TOTSMBE?
A3. Not concurrently.
Q4. Is the list of Alternative Teacher Preparation programs at the TEACH website current? How quickly can local colleges be eligible to issue Transitional Certificates? Could they be ready in time for the start of this grant?
A4. The list of Transitional B programs was most recently updated on 1/18/18. The list of Transitional C programs was last updated on 7/19/16. A college cannot reasonably expect to complete the process of designing, registering, and launching a Transitional B or Transitional C program that leads to certification prior to the start of this grant (September 1, 2018). Note also that NYSED, not institutions of higher education (IHEs), issues certificates in the classroom teacher service. IHEs with registered programs leading to certification recommend candidates for certification and send the college recommendations to NYSED.
Q5. The College at Brockport is considering a partnership with a local school district – for example, to deliver a program under Category B – Tuition Reimbursement for Initial Certification in Science, Mathematics, and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). But we’re wondering about the specification that school districts “…recruit and/or retain individuals who have received or will receive a transitional certificate.” Can districts also recruit candidates seeking initial or initial/professional certificates in the same content areas? I ask because Brockport does not have transitional certificate programs, nor do most SUNYs. Warm regards, and thanks for any clarification!
A5. Districts can use TOTSMBE funding to recruit and/or retain individuals seeking Initial or Professional certificates in science, mathematics, or ESOL only if those individuals possess a transitional certificate OR possessed a transitional certificate, gained an Initial certificate, and are seeking an additional certificate. For individuals who already possessed a transitional certificate, the transitional certificate need not have been in science, mathematics, or ESOL. For example, an individual who previously received a transitional certificate and gained an Initial certificate in a subject area other than science, mathematics, or ESOL could become eligible for TOTSMBE if he or she pursues an Initial or Professional certificate in science, mathematics, or ESOL via a New York State traditional preparation program.
Q6. Must a teacher be formally enrolled in a Transitional B or Transitional C program at the time the course is completed, or can a per diem substitute still be in the process of investigating a career change at the time they complete their first course(s)?
A6. A candidate is only eligible to participate in this program if he or she will receive a transitional certificate, OR possesses a transitional certificate, OR possessed a transitional certificate and gained an Initial or Professional certificate. Therefore, a candidate who has never enrolled in a Transitional B or Transitional C program is not eligible to participate in this program. However, a participating candidate may receive reimbursement for courses that were reasonable and necessary to fulfill NYSED requirements for the relevant credential, even if those courses were taken prior to enrolling in a Transitional B or Transitional C program.
Q7. I am working with one of the school districts allocated to receive funds under this program. The question they have is regarding the process for identifying and selecting candidates eligible for the program. They would like to understand the inclusion of both subjective and objective criteria in this process. Recognizing that teaching is both an art and a science, they would like to include some subjective factors, as well as objective criteria in selecting the candidates. Would the inclusion of both be acceptable to TOT?
A7. School Districts can impose additional requirements. The instructions for the Proposal Narrative on page 17 of the RFA ask districts to explain how they will select participants to receive an award, particularly if the number of qualified candidates exceeds the available funds.
Q8. I am interested in the grant. What paperwork do I need to submit in order to be qualified? I teach kindergarten in a high-needs district to English learners. Please guide in where I can apply and what paperwork I need.
A8. Your school district will have to apply for funding if they are listed as an eligible district on pages 10-12 of the RFA. The process for selecting participants from among eligible teachers is determined at the district level.
Q9. The RFP states that “Expenses incurred by districts prior to September 1, 2018 … will not be reimbursed.” What is the definition of “expenses incurred by districts?” For example, in the Spring of 2019 can the district reimburse a teacher who paid for a course in July or August 2018, as long as they successfully complete the course during the funding period?
A9. “Expenses incurred by districts” means any money spent by the district prior to September 1, 2018. Yes, in response to your example, in Spring of 2019 the district may reimburse a teacher who paid for a course in July or August 2018.
Q10. Are there any time restrictions for taking the courses and completing the transitional certificate?
Q11. Can TOTSMBE funds be used to reimburse teachers currently assigned to a low-performing school for college coursework completed in previous year(s) while they worked in a school in good standing?
A11. Yes, providing that the costs were not previously reimbursed by another program and all other requirements of the TOTSMBE RFA are met.
Q12. Can a teacher who received their transitional certificate and gained their initial or professional certificate while working in another district request reimbursement for that coursework while teaching full time in their current district? How would the current district determine if the teacher had received tuition reimbursement from their previous district at the time of enrollment?
A12. Yes, a district may reimburse a participating teacher for educational costs incurred while the teacher was working in another district. It is up to the district who is making the award to determine whether particular educational costs are reimbursable under the terms of the RFA. One possible approach might be to require a notarized attestation from the teacher stating that claimed costs have not been previously reimbursed.
Q13. Can any teacher who has or had a Transitional Certificate and now holds certification for math, science, bilingual education, or ESOL request reimbursement to pay their student loans regardless of how much time has elapsed?
A13. Districts receiving an award under this program may reimburse a participating teacher for educational costs that the participant incurred prior to receiving the award, as long as those costs were reasonable and necessary to fulfill NYSED requirements for the relevant credential, were not previously reimbursed, and meet all other requirements listed in the RFA.
Q14. I had a question regarding the grant program. I am currently enrolled at SUNY Empire State College in the MAT program for Earth Science (transitional B pathway). I have accepted a position to teach Earth Science at Hannibal High School next year, which is a school that qualifies for the funding under the Teachers of Tomorrow program. My question is related to past tuition costs and what expenses are eligible for reimbursement per the parameters of this grant. This past year, I took courses as a part of the MAT program, which I presume would qualify as past tuition towards my initial teaching certificate. However, would my student loans from my undergraduate degree in Earth Science be considered a past tuition cost which this money could be used to help reimburse? I see that student loans are listed as one of the options for acceptable reimbursement, but I am not sure if that specifically applies to student loans obtained during attainment of the teaching degree itself (i.e., the MAT only) or student loans obtained to complete the broader requirements (e.g., 30 credit hours in my content area, attained during my Bachelor’s degree) as well.
A14. Districts receiving an award under this program may reimburse a participating teacher for educational costs that the participant incurred prior to receiving the award, as long as those costs were reasonable and necessary to fulfill NYSED requirements for the relevant credential, were not previously reimbursed, and meet all other requirements listed in the RFA.
Q15. Our district provides tuition reimbursement at the SUNY course cost for initial teachers to get their professional certification and for professional teachers to take approved coursework. Since this grant can supplement, but not supplant existing funding, can the TOT MSBE funds be used to reimburse tuition expenses above and beyond the SUNY rate (e.g., tuition for a private school) or the books and fees that the district does not reimburse?
Q16. May a participant receive reimbursement after completing course requirements for one category in Year 1 and then request reimbursement from a different category in Year 2?
A16. That is a decision for the School District.
Q17. If a teacher withdraws from the certification program after completing the reimbursed course(s), must they repay the TOT funds?
Q18. Is the one-year service commitment in addition to the year of full-time employment required for tuition reimbursement? For example, if a teacher is employed full-time in a low-performing school in 2018-2019 and receives TOT tuition reimbursement that year, will they complete their service commitment in June 2019 or June 2020?
A18. Yes, the one-year service commitment is in addition to the year of full-time employment required for participant eligibility. Thus, in your example, a teacher who is employed in a low-performing school in 2018-19 and receives reimbursement in that year will complete their service commitment at the end of the following school year, in June 2020.
Q19. From what report do the Shortage FTEs in Table 1 come?
A19. The data in Table 1 are compiled by NYSED based on information provided by school districts when they report teaching assignments in BEDS (Basic Educational Data System), and are submitted annually to the U.S. Department of Education for publication in its annual Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing, which can be found at this link: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/pol/bteachershortageareasreport201718.pdf