[Federal Register: October 30, 1995 (Volume 60, Number 209)]
[Notices]               
[Page 55246-55247]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
 
Bilingual Education: Systemwide Improvement Grants Program

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority for fiscal year (FY) 1996 and 
following years.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary announces a priority for FY 1996 and following 
years under the Bilingual Education: Systemwide Improvement Grants 
Program authorized in title VII of the Elementary and Secondary 
Education Act of 1965, as amended (the Act). The Secretary takes this 
action to implement a provision of the Act by focusing Federal 
financial assistance on an identified national need. The priority is 
intended to provide financial assistance to local educational agencies 
(LEAs) or LEAs in collaboration with institutions of higher education 
(IHEs), community-based organizations (CBOs), other LEAs, or a State 
educational agency (SEA) to implement districtwide bilingual education 
programs or special alternative instructional programs that will serve 
a significant number of limited English proficient (LEP) children and 
youth in one or more LEAs with significant concentrations of these 
children and youth.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority takes effect November 29, 1995.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Harry Logel, U.S. Department of 
Education, 600 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5090, Switzer Building, 
Washington, DC 20202-6510. Telephone: (202) 205-5530. Individuals who 
use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 
p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under section 7115(a) of the Act, the 
purpose of the Systemwide Improvement Grants Program is to assist LEAs 
or LEAs in collaboration with IHEs, CBOs, other LEAs, or an SEA to 
implement districtwide bilingual education programs or special 
alternative instructional programs to improve, reform, and upgrade 
relevant programs and operations, within an entire LEA, that serve a 
significant number of LEP children and youth in one or more LEAs with 
significant concentrations of these children and youth.
    Under this final priority LEAs are eligible for funding if the 
proposed project serves only LEAs in which the number of LEP students, 
in each LEA served, is at least 1,000 or at least 25 percent of the 
total student enrollment. By using a 1,000 or 25 percent 

[[Page 55247]]
threshold, the Secretary is targeting those LEAs in which LEP students 
constitute a major portion of the LEAs' programs and operations. The 
Secretary chose to use either a number or a percentage threshold in 
order to include small and large school districts with significant 
concentrations of LEP students. If the Secretary had used only a 
percentage threshold, some of the larger districts would be excluded 
from participating in the program even though they enroll significant 
numbers of LEP students. On the other hand, if the Secretary had used 
only a numerical threshold, some smaller districts would be excluded 
from participating in the program even though a significant percentage 
of their student enrollment consists of LEP students. Using the 1,000 
or 25 percent threshold, the Department estimates that approximately 
450 LEAs are eligible to participate under this program. This estimate 
is based on data from the Descriptive Study of Services to LEP Students 
conducted by Development Associates, Inc., in 1993.
    On March 2, 1995 the Secretary published a notice of proposed 
priority for this program in the Federal Register (60 FR 11862).

    Note: This notice of final priority does not solicit 
applications. A competition under this program will not be held in 
FY 1996. If a competition is held in a subsequent year, a notice 
inviting applications under that competition will be published in 
the Federal Register at that time.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation in the notice of proposed 
priority, two parties submitted comments. An analysis of the 
substantive comments follows. The Secretary has made no changes in this 
priority since publication of the notice of proposed priority.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the priority needed to clarify 
whether or not LEAs may collaborate with one another to participate in 
the program.
    Discussion: The statutory authority for this program provides that 
LEAs may collaborate with one another in carrying out a Systemwide 
Improvement Grants project. The priority makes clear, however, that 
each LEA served under a Systemwide Improvement Grants project must meet 
either the numerical or the percentage threshold.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that States with small 
populations and rural districts would be unable to participate in the 
Systemwide Improvement Grants Program because they could not reach the 
student threshold. The commenter maintained that States that receive 
large influxes of immigrants are less likely to need Federal assistance 
because of existing services or resources for their LEP children and 
youth or because they have been past recipients of Federal assistance. 
The commenter also noted that small States must serve LEP students, but 
may not have existing services or the resources necessary to serve 
them.
    Discussion: Because the Systemwide Improvement Grants Program is 
required by its authorizing statute to serve LEP children and youth in 
LEAs with significant concentrations of these children and youth, the 
Secretary, in order to implement the program, had to determine what 
constitutes a ``significant concentration.'' If the Secretary used only 
a number to measure a significant concentration, LEAs with small 
enrollments could be excluded from participation in the program even 
though the percentage of LEP students in those school districts was 
high. By using a percentage as well as a numerical measurement, the 
Secretary has made it possible for LEAs with small student enrollments, 
but a significant percentage of LEP students, to meet the priority. The 
Secretary believes that a 25 percent threshold targets those LEAs in 
which the number of LEP children and youth may not be large but 
nonetheless constitutes a major portion of the enrollment.
    Changes: None.

Priority

    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) and section 7115(a) of the Act, the 
Secretary gives an absolute preference to applications that meet the 
following priority. The Secretary funds under this competition only 
applications that meet this absolute priority:
    Projects that serve only LEAs in which the number of LEP students, 
in each LEA served, is at least 1,000 or at least 25 percent of the 
total student enrollment.

Intergovernmental review

    This program is subject to the requirements of Executive Order 
12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR Part 79. The objective of the 
Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a 
strengthened federalism by relying on processes developed by State and 
local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    In accordance with the order, this document is intended to provide 
early notification of the Department's specific plans and actions for 
this program.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.291 Bilingual 
Education: Systemwide Improvement Grants.)

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7425.

    Dated: October 19, 1995.
Dang T. Pham,
Acting Director, Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages 
Affairs.
[FR Doc. 95-26753 Filed 10-27-95; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P