February 12, 1999
MEMORANDUM TO CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently released "Interim Report 3: Evaluation of 1995 County and School District Estimates for Title I Allocations." In that report, NAS "recommends to the Secretaries of Education and Commerce that the Census Bureau's 1995 school district estimates of poor school-age children be used to make direct Title I allocations to school districts for the 1999-2000 school year." (A copy of the report's executive summary is attached.)
After consulting with NAS, the Secretaries of Commerce and Education have decided to follow the Academy's recommendation. As a result, we will allocate Title I, Part A funds, through each State educational agency, to local educational agencies (LEAs) for school year (SY) 1999-2000 using the Census Bureau's 1995 school district poverty estimates. This decision implements the mandate from Congress to allocate the $7.6 billion available for Title I, Part A for SY 1999-2000 to LEAs using the most up-to-date poverty data published by the Census Bureau.
In preparing to implement this decision, we have been working with the Census Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services, and State Title I Coordinators to obtain, edit and verify other formula data needed to make direct LEA allocations. We expect to announce preliminary allocations in mid-April based on the formula data available at that time and final allocations in early June. We do not anticipate that this schedule will cause significant disruption for States and LEAs because the 100 percent hold-harmless provision in effect for SY 1999-2000 generally guarantees that eligible LEAs will receive at least the same amounts as last year.
In the next few weeks, we will send each State two very important documents that will enable States and LEAs to prepare for SY 1999-2000 direct LEA allocations and will enable us to make final allocations as quickly as possible.
As required by the Title I statute, the Census Bureau has published updated data for school districts that we will use in allocating the SY 1999-2000 Title I Basic and Concentration Grants. These data include the 1995 estimated number of poor children ages 5 through 17, the total school-age population, and the total resident population. Using these data, State Title I Coordinators will be able to make preliminary determinations as to which LEAs on this list are eligible for Basic and Concentration Grants. (Please note that these data do not include all formula children, such as foster children or neglected and delinquent children, or reflect, for example, recent boundary changes that may also affect eligibility.) Since eligible LEAs will generally receive at least the same Basic and/or
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Concentration Grant as in SY 1998-99, the census information will allow eligible LEAs to begin planning their SY 1999-2000 Title I programs.
Information identifying which LEAs have fewer than 20,000 total residents will enable each State to begin considering whether to take advantage of the flexibility provided in the Title I statute to use an alternative method to distribute Title I funds to these "small" LEAs. The statute provides that a State, with our approval, may use alternative poverty data to redistribute LEA allocations for all LEAs serving fewer than 20,000 total residents. We will provide guidance in the next few weeks for SEAs seeking such approval.
The list of LEAs provided to us by the Census Bureau is based on school districts as they existed in SY 1995-96. For many States this list will not match the State's current list of school districts because of consolidations, boundary changes, and the creation of charter school LEAs since SY 1995-96. Because we only have poverty estimates for those LEAs on the Census Bureau's list, we can make allocations only to those LEAs. However, we will provide guidance for SEAs to use in adjusting our allocations to account for eligible LEAs within a State not on the Census Bureau's list.
Your State's Title I Coordinator has provided us with your State's SY 1998-99 Basic and Concentration Grant allocations to LEAs. These allocations must be verified for accuracy and completeness. This verification process is extremely important because all allocations to eligible LEAs for SY 1999-2000 must reflect (as a "hold-harmless" amount) the Basic and/or Concentration Grant each LEA received in SY 1998-99. States will be asked to review their SY 1998-99 allocation data as quickly as possible and discuss the results of that review with my staff. This verification process must be completed for all States before we can make final SY 1999-2000 LEA allocations.
The next several months will be challenging as we make this transition. If you would like to discuss issues concerning the SY 1999-2000 allocation process, please contact Ms. Mary Jean LeTendre, Director, Compensatory Education Programs, at (202) 260-0826.
Gerald N. Tirozzi
CEP/SbrownBwhite/260-0976/2/1/99/Census (3) decision CSSO
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