Special Report
Federal

Guidance Would Allow Waivers on Title I Stimulus Funds

New flexibility proposed on mandatory set-asides for SES, transportation
By Christina A. Samuels — July 10, 2009 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Includes updates and/or revisions.

The U.S. Department of Education has released draft guidance to states and school districts on how to apply for waivers that would give them more flexibility in spending economic-stimulus money tied to Title I, the federal program for schools with high numbers of students in poverty.

The guidance also includes proposed waivers that follow up on an earlier promise made by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to revisit some Title I regulations that were passed last October by the Bush administration.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is providing a $10 billion infusion of Title I money to the states. By allowing waivers, the department is saying that states, districts, and schools don’t have to follow all of the same rules when spending the stimulus Title I money as they would have to when using their regular Title I federal appropriation.

For example, schools that are in “in need of improvement” status based on their test scores under the No Child Left Behind Act must now spend 10 percent of their Title I funds on professional development. The Education Department will allow schools to apply for waivers of that requirement for their stimulus Title I funds.

Also, districts are required to set aside up to 20 percent of their Title I dollars to pay for students in low-performing schools to receive tutoring outside the regular school day, referred to as “supplemental educational services,” or transportation to higher-performing schools if students choose to transfer. Under the guidance released last week by the department, districts can apply for a waiver from that requirement for their stimulus dollars.

Needed Flexibility

“We’re delighted by the waiver guidance,” said Mary Kusler, the assistant director of government relations for the American Association of School Administrators, in Arlington, Va. “It does show some recognition of the flexibility that is needed with these unprecedented funds.”

The association was pleased that Mr. Duncan announced that the guidance was coming during a July 7 phone call with its members, Ms. Kusler said, and that the department was requesting feedback, if quickly. The deadline for responding to the draft guidance, released July 7, was July 13.

The new guidance also offers a way for districts to request waivers from Title I regulations that were released in October 2008. In an April 1 letter to state schools chiefs, Mr. Duncan had said he was planning to review those regulations, with an eye toward repealing or offering waivers for some elements.

As a part of that process, the new guidance offers a way for districts with one or more schools in improvement status under No Child Left Behind to offer supplemental educational services to students in addition to a chance to transfer to a higher performing school. This waiver would apply to Title I schools that are in the first year of school improvement.

Under current regulations, a school that is identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring cannot be a provider of extra tutoring. The same disqualification applies to districts identified for improvement or corrective action.

In his April 1 letter, Mr. Duncan said he wants to repeal those restrictions entirely, because they hold districts and schools to different standards than other entities, and limit competition among tutoring providers. But because the process of repealing the provision is expected to take time, Mr. Duncan is starting with waivers of that rule for the 2009-10 school year.

The guidance document also indicates that states may apply for a waiver of the rule requiring that they give parents of children in poorly performing schools at least 14 days’ notice of public school transfer options.

Mr. Duncan said in his April letter that he encourages districts to give far more than 14 days’ notice to parents. But, he added, he has heard from states that cannot change their testing schedules or contracts with test vendors to get the results quickly enough so that parents can receive 14 days of notice for the upcoming school year.

Jeff Simering, the director of legislative services for the Council of the Great City Schools, in Washington,said the guidance will be critical for districts. However, he said, the relatively late release of the document means that some districts and states have had to create plans for spending Title I money without taking into account waivers that they knew were coming.

“The program years begin July 1, and we’ve had to submit our stimulus applications before we had forms and guidance,” he said. Some states and districts will now have to resubmit plans, he said.

Ms. Kusler noted that concern, but said she recognized that the department had to wait for the White House and the Office of Management and Budget to weigh in before releasing the guidance. “We recognize that this is a long time in the making,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 2009 edition of Education Week as Guidance Would Allow Waivers on Title I Stimulus Funds

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Low-Performing Schools Are Left to Languish by Districts and States, Watchdog Finds
Fewer than half of district plans for improving struggling schools meet bare minimum requirements.
11 min read
A group of silhouettes looks across a grid with a public school on the other side.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock