Office of Accountability - Albany Office
In response to these challenging times, the New York State Education Department (NYSED, or “the Department”) recognizes that many schools and communities are still facing unprecedented obstacles as the 2020-2021 school year continues and would benefit from greater flexibility in the use of Title IV, Part A funds.
On December 4, 2020, the United States Department of Education (USDE) offered states the ability to apply for waivers related to the expenditure of School Year (SY) 2020-21 Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program (Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)) funds. NYSED immediately pursued the waivers in order to ensure that LEAs could be afforded the maximum flexibilities that were available.
Pursuant to USDE’s authority under section 8401(b) of the ESEA, NYSED has been granted a waiver, on behalf of all local educational agencies (LEAs), to waive the following requirements in Title IV, Part A of the ESEA:
- Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA, related to LEA needs assessments for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA, with respect to content-area spending requirements for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2020 Title IV, Part A funds.
- Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA, with respect to the fifteen percent spending limitation for technology infrastructure for FY 2020 Title IV, Part A funds.
This memo highlights the new flexibilities that are available as a result of approved USDE waivers submitted by NYSED on behalf of all LEAs. The attached Q&A provides increased guidance on allowable uses of Title IV, Part A funds.
Continued Flexibilities as a result of USDE Waivers
As a result of the USDE-approved Title IV, Part A waiver, LEAs are now able to take advantage of the following flexibilities:
- For SY 2020-21 funds, LEAs with Title IV, Part A allocations of $30,000 or more are no longer required to conduct a formal needs assessment in order to be eligible to receive the LEA’s allocation or make changes to planned use of funds.
- For SY 2020-21 funds, LEAs with Title IV, Part A allocations of $30,000 or more are no longer required to meet the content area spending requirements of using at least 20 percent of funds received for Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities, at least 20 percent for Safe and Healthy Students, and a portion of funds for the Effective Use of Technology in section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E).
- For SY 2020-21 funds, all LEAs that received Title IV, Part A funds are no longer required to limit the expenditure of funds for technology infrastructure to no more than 15% of the portion of funds obligated for the Effective Use of Technology.
Please note: All other requirements in Title IV, Part A of the ESEA continue to apply.
The Department remains in close contact with the USDE and will inform the field of any additional flexibilities available to LEAs as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. NYSED has established a COVID-19 website to provide districts and schools with the most recent guidance related to closures, health department guidance, and issues related to continuity of education.
If you have questions regarding the use of federal funds associated with approved 2020-21 Consolidated Applications for ESSA-Funded, please contact the Office of ESSA-Funded Programs at CONAPPTA@nysed.gov.
We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy, and we extend our appreciation for the support you continue to provide your students and school communities during this difficult time.
Cc: Kim Wilkins
Questions and Answers – Use of Title IV, Part A Federal Program Funds
Q1. Can Title IV, Part A federal funds be used to support continuity of learning when schools are providing remote or hybrid instruction?
A1. Yes, Title IV, Part A program funds can be used to support student learning within a fully remote or hybrid instructional model. An individual LEA receiving Title IV, Part A funds, regardless of allocation size, may use funds for any of the three content areas in the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program. Within each of these areas, LEAs have broad flexibility to use the SSAE program funds for a variety of activities to improve student outcomes and address the opportunity gaps as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjustments that had to be made to instructional models. For example, LEAs can purchase computing devices, including Chromebooks, laptops, and technology infrastructure, such as mobile hotspots to support remote learning; cleaning and sanitizing supplies to support safe and healthy environments; or mental health programs or professional development to support safe and healthy students. More information regarding allowable uses of Title IV, Part A funds is available on USDE’s website.
Q2. Can Title IV, Part A program funds be used to cover the costs of mobile hotspots for students and families who do not have access to high-speed internet for remote learning?
A2. Yes, Title IV, Part A program funds can be used to cover the costs of mobile hotspots to support remote learning for students who do not have access to high-speed internet. USDE has waived the 15% infrastructure limit to accommodate these types of needs during the pandemic.
Q3. Can an LEA receive a waiver from the minimum expenditure requirements related to the three content areas (Well-Rounded Education, Safe and Healthy Students, and Effective Use of Technology) under Title IV Part A?
A3. Yes, LEAs do not need to seek a waiver for this request. USDE has granted flexibility to all LEAs that received an allocation of $30,000 or more. Those LEAs do not need to comply with the minimum use of funds requirements for SY 2020-21.
Q4. Will the Department allow LEAs to carryover federal funds that are not expended due to closures caused by the COVID-19 virus?
A4. Yes, LEAs can carryover their unused 2020-21 Title IV, Part A funds into the 2021-22 school year.
Q5. Can LEAs transfer funds from Title IV, Part A?
A5. Yes, LEAs can transfer up to 100% of the funds received under Title IV, Part A to other eligible programs to better address the needs of their unique student populations and to ensure the capacity of delivering a meaningful program. Requirements related to documentation and equitable services, including the requirement to engage in meaningful consultation prior to a transfer, must still be met.
Q6. Do LEAs still have to meet equitable services requirements and consult with nonpublic schools regarding use of funds?
A6. Yes, LEAs are obligated to satisfy all equitable services requirements, which includes engaging the nonpublic schools in on-going meaningful consultation and providing an equitable services program as it relates to applicable federal funding programs. The model for engaging in timely and meaningful consultation may change to accommodate social distancing and stay at home orders. For example, an LEA may engage nonpublic school leaders through virtual methods, such as video conferencing or tele-conferencing.
Q7. What is the best way for an LEA to make budget changes during the closures?
A7. The LEA should submit an amendment (FS-10A) form for all proposed budgetary modifications via email at CONAPPTA@nysed.gov, with a hard copy mailed to the New York State Education Department, Office of ESSA-Funded Programs, 89 Washington Avenue, EB 320, Albany, NY 12234.