Request for Waiver Regarding Cycle 4 Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant Program School Improvement Grant (SIG) Funds

Word version

Waiver Availability

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT:     Request for Waiver Regarding Cycle 4 Texas Title I Priority Schools Grant Program School Improvement Grant (SIG) Funds

The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has released guidance on the opportunity for the state to request waivers applicable to Section 1003(g) School Improvement Grant funding.  This is to notify you of the state’s intent to apply for the waiver below on behalf of local education agencies (LEAs) with one or more campuses selected for the Texas Title I Priority Schools, Cycle 4 grant program.  

Background

The Texas Title I Priority Schools (TTIPS) grant program is funded with federal School Improvement Grant funds, authorized under section 1003(g) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Title I or ESEA).  These grants, through the Texas Education Agency (Agency) to LEAs, are for use in Title I schools identified as priority or focus schools that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement of their students so as to enable the schools to meet and close achievement gaps for annual measurable objectives and exit priority or focus status.  Under the final requirements published by USDE, these funds are to be focused on the State’s persistently lowest-achieving schools and other schools that meet the federal definition of eligibility.  In schools an LEA chooses to serve, the LEA must implement one of seven school intervention models:  turnaround model, restart model, school closure, transformation model, state designed model, early learning model, or whole school reform model.  

The applicable waiver would allow any eligible LEA that receives a TTIPS Cycle 4 grant for an eligible campus to use those funds in accordance with the final requirements for School Improvement Grants and the LEA’s application for a grant. 

The State believes that the waiver will increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students in priority or focus schools by enabling an LEA to use more effectively the school improvement funds to implement one of the seven intervention models in its
schools.

Comment Period

Notice of the proposed waivers will be published in the Texas Register in the next few weeks.  However, you will be able to provide comments on these proposed waivers until February 13, 2015, by electronic mail to NCLBTTIPS@tea.state.tx.us.

Waivers

Waive section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. § 1225(b)) to extend the period of availability of FY 2014 school improvement funds for the State and all of its eligible LEAs to September 30, 2020.

This waiver would extend the “life” of the funds through the full five-year implementation cycle.  This will allow the state to combine fiscal year funds and fund the initial grant award and continuation grants to the LEAs on behalf of their selected eligible campuses for the entire intervention period.

TEA will aggregate the comments received from LEAs in response to this notice and submit them as part of the state’s application for the 1003(g) funds to USDE. Please note that TEA will take comments into consideration when finalizing the state’s application for Cycle 4 funds to USDE. When TEA receives USDE approval of the waiver requests, additional information will be provided to LEAs on the implementation of the waivers through the Request for Application associated with this grant program.

For additional information on the proposed waiver requests, please contact Shayna Sheehan via email at shayna.sheehan@tea.state.tx.us or at (512) 463-2617 or Leticia Govea via email at leticia.govea@tea.state.tx.us  or at (512) 463-1427.

Sincerely,

Sally Partridge, Associate Commissioner

Accreditation and School Improvement