[Federal Register: June 21, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 121)]
[Page 32314-32316]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE)

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of Final Priority and Limitation on Use of Funds for
Fiscal Years 1996 and 1997; Elementary School Mathematics and Science 
Equipment Program.


SUMMARY: The Secretary announces an absolute priority under the Fund 
for the Improvement of Education (FIE): Elementary School Mathematics 
and Science Equipment Program. The Secretary takes this action to focus 
Federal financial assistance on raising the quality of instruction in 
mathematics and science in the Nation's elementary schools by providing 
equipment and materials necessary for hands-on instruction.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority takes effect July 22, 1996.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lois N. Weinberg, U.S. Department of 
Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Room 502H, Washington, D.C. 
20208-5645; (202) 219-2147. 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: The purpose of the Fund for the Improvement 
of Education is to support nationally significant programs to improve 
the quality of education, assist all students to meet challenging State 
content and student performance standards, and contribute to the 
achievement of the National Education Goals.
    The Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 
(``Act''), Pub. L. 104-134, requires the Secretary to use $3,000,000 of 
FIE funds for mathematics and science equipment projects. The report 
language accompanying the Act directs the Secretary to provide 
assistance, through State and local educational agencies, to carry out 
programs such as those authorized under Title III, Part E of the 
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C.

[[Page 32315]]

6971). Title III, Part E authorizes grant awards to local educational 
agencies (LEA) for the purpose of providing equipment and materials to 
public and private elementary schools to improve hands-on instruction 
in mathematics and science.
    To carry out this Congressional directive, the Secretary 
establishes an absolute priority limiting the use of funds under this 
FIE competition to projects that provide equipment and materials to 
elementary schools for the purpose of improving mathematics and science 
education through hands-on instruction. In accordance with Title III, 
Part E, the Secretary gives priority to projects that assist schools 
which are seriously underequipped or serve large numbers or percentages 
of economically disadvantaged students. Furthermore, in accordance with 
the provisions of Title III, Part E, the Secretary limits the 
definition of ``equipment'' to prohibit the use of grant funds for the 
purchase of computers, computer peripherals, software, textbooks, staff 
development costs, or for capital improvements.
    Eligibility for awards under this competition is limited to LEAs 
since LEAs have primary responsibility for purchasing equipment and 
supplies for elementary schools. However, to ensure that children in 
private schools have an equitable opportunity to benefit from projects 
funded under this competition, the Secretary makes sections 14503-14506 
of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 8893-8896) applicable to awards made to LEAs 
under this program. Section 14503 requires an LEA receiving grant funds 
under this program to provide private school children and teachers, on 
an equitable basis, special educational services or other program 
benefits under this program. The section further requires LEAs to 
consult with private school officials during the design and development 
of the proposed project. Each application should describe the ways in 
which the proposed project will address the needs of private school 
children and teachers.
    Furthermore, the Secretary directs financial assistance under this 
competition to projects that benefit elementary schools located in 
areas that have been designated as Empowerment Zones or Enterprise 
Communities in accordance with Section 1391 of the Internal Revenue 
Code (IRC), as amended by Title XIII of the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993.

Background on Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community Program--(EZ/

    The Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community program is a critical 
element of the Administration's community revitalization strategy. The 
program is the first step in rebuilding communities in America's 
poverty-stricken inner cities and rural heartlands. It is designed to 
empower people and communities by inspiring Americans to work together 
to create jobs and opportunity.
    The Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Housing and Urban 
Development (HUD) have designated empowerment zones and enterprise 
communities, which are communities located within the cities and 
counties listed in the appendix.
    The Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities were designated 
based on locally-developed strategic plans that comprehensively address 
how the community will link economic development with education and 
training, as well as how community development, public safety, human 
services, and environmental initiatives together will support 
sustainable communities. Designated areas will receive Federal grant 
funds and substantial tax benefits and will have access to other 
Federal programs. (For additional information on the Urban EZ/EC 
program contact HUD at 1-800-998-9999 and for the rural EZ/EC program 
contact USDA at 1-800-645-4712.)
    The Department of Education is supporting the Empowerment Zone and 
Enterprise Community initiative in a variety of ways. It is encouraging 
zones to use funds they already receive from Department of Education 
programs (including Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, the Adult 
Education Act, and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied 
Technology Act) to support the comprehensive vision of their strategic 
plans. In addition, the Department of Education is giving preference to 
EZ/ECs in a number of discretionary programs that are well suited for 
inclusion in a comprehensive approach to economic and community 
    The Empowerment Zone initiative and the Elementary School 
Mathematics and Science Equipment Program share some common features. 
Both programs address the educational needs of students in communities 
and schools with limited resources. The Elementary School Mathematics 
and Science Equipment Program is specifically designed to assist 
schools which are most seriously lacking mathematics and science 
equipment, and which serve large numbers or percentages of economically 
disadvantaged students.

    Note: This notice of final priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
is published in a separate notice in this issue of the Federal 

    Absolute Priority: Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) the Secretary gives an 
absolute preference to applicants that meet the following priority. The 
Secretary funds under this competition only applications that meet this 
absolute priority:
    Projects that serve schools in an Empowerment Zone or Enterprise 
Community and are designed to--
    (1) Purchase and provide equipment for hands-on instruction in 
mathematics and science for elementary schools which--
    (A) Are most seriously underequipped; or
    (B) Serve large numbers or percentages of economically 
disadvantaged students, or underrepresented groups in mathematics and 
science, or both; and
    (2) Demonstrate how instructional strategies that use hands-on 
mathematics and science equipment will assist students to work toward 
the achievement of challenging student performance standards.
    Limitations on Use of Funds: Funds provided through grants under 
this competition shall be used to purchase science equipment, science 
materials, or mathematical manipulative materials for elementary 
schools and shall not be used for computers, computer peripherals, 
software, textbooks, staff development costs, or for capital 
    For the purpose of this competition, the word ``equipment'' 
includes supplies and materials that would not be considered equipment 
under the definitions in the Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) at 34 CFR Sections 74.2, 74.34, 
80.3, and 80.32. For example, equipment purchased under this 
competition could include low-cost manipulatives that students and 
teachers would use for hands-on instruction in mathematics and science.
    However, if a grantee uses some of the funds received under this 
competition to purchase equipment as defined at 34 CFR Sections 74.2 or 
80.3, that is, tangible, nonexpendable, personal property with a useful 
life of more than one year, and a cost of $5,000 or more per unit, the 
EDGAR regulations

[[Page 32316]]

regarding equipment apply. Thus, the grantee would have to manage and 
dispose of the equipment consistent with the requirements at Sec. 74.34 
or Sec. 80.32.
    Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: In accordance with the 
Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553), it is the practice of the 
Department of Education to offer interested parties the opportunity to 
comment on proposed priorities that are not taken directly from 
statute. Ordinarily, this practice would have applied to the priorities 
for this program. However, the Secretary waives rulemaking on these 
rules under section 553(b)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act. This 
section provides that rulemaking is not required when the agency for 
good cause finds that notice and public procedure are impracticable, 
unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. Final Congressional 
action, directing the Secretary to use FY 1996 funds to carry out the 
activities specified in these rules, did not occur until April 26, 
1996. The Secretary believes that, in order to make timely grant awards 
using Fiscal Year (FY) 1996 funds, public comment on these rules is 
    Furthermore, these priorities, as well as the restrictions on the 
use of funds, are drawn in large part from the statute authorizing the 
Elementary Mathematics and Science Equipment Program (20 U.S.C. 6971). 
Congress, in its report accompanying the appropriation of funds for 
Fiscal Year 1996, directed the Department to use the appropriated funds 
for activities similar to those authorized under the Elementary 
Mathematics and Science Equipment Program.

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.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 8001.

    Dated: June 18, 1996.
Sharon P. Robinson,
Assistant Secretary for Research and Improvement.

Appendix--Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities

Empowerment Zones (EZ)

Georgia: Atlanta
Illinois: Chicago
Kentucky: Kentucky Highlands*
Maryland: Baltimore
Michigan: Detroit
Mississippi: Mid Delta*
New York: Harlem, Bronx
Pennsylvania/New Jersey: Philadelphia, Camden
Texas: Rio Grande Valley*

Supplemental Empowerment Zones (SEZ)

California: Los Angeles
Ohio: Cleveland

Enterprise Communities (EC)

Alabama: Birmingham
Alabama: Chambers County*
Alabama: Greene, Sumter Counties*
Arizona: Phoenix
Arizona: Arizona Border*
Arkansas: East Central*
Arkansas: Mississippi County*
Arkansas: Pulaski County
California: Imperial County*
California: Los Angeles, Huntington Park
California: San Diego
California: San Francisco, Bayview, Hunter's Point
California: Watsonville*
Colorado: Denver
Connecticut: Bridgeport
Connecticut: New Haven
Delaware: Wilmington
District of Columbia: Washington
Florida: Jackson County*
Florida: Tampa
Florida: Miami, Dade County
Georgia: Albany
Georgia: Central Savannah*
Georgia: Crisp, Dooley Counties*
Illinois: East St. Louis
Illinois: Springfield
Indiana: Indianapolis
Iowa: Des Moines
Kentucky: Louisville
Louisiana: Northeast Delta*
Louisiana: Macon Ridge*
Louisiana: New Orleans
Louisiana: Ouachita Parish
Massachusetts: Lowell
Massachusetts: Springfield
Michigan: Five Cap*
Michigan: Flint
Michigan: Muskegon
Minnesota: Minneapolis
Minnesota: St. Paul
Mississippi: Jackson
Mississippi: North Delta*
Missouri: East Prairie*
Missouri: St. Louis
Nebraska: Omaha
Nevada: Clarke County, Las Vegas
New Hampshire: Manchester
New Jersey: Newark
New Mexico: Albuquerque
New Mexico: Moro, Rico Arriba, Taos Counties*
New York: Albany, Schenectady, Troy
New York: Buffalo
New York: Newburgh, Kingston
New York: Rochester
North Carolina: Charlotte
North Carolina: Halifax, Edgecombe, Wilson Counties*
North Carolina: Robeson County*
Ohio: Akron
Ohio: Columbus
Ohio: Greater Portsmouth*
Oklahoma: Choctaw, McCurtain Counties*
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
Oregon: Josephine*
Oregon: Portland
Pennsylvania: Harrisburg
Pennsylvania: Lock Haven*
Pennsylvania: Pittsburg
Rhode Island: Providence
South Carolina: Charleston
South Carolina: Williamsburg County*
South Dakota: Beadle, Spink Counties*
Tennessee: Fayette, Haywood Counties*
Tennessee: Memphis
Tennessee: Nashville
Tennessee/Kentucky: Scott, McCreary Counties*
Texas: Dallas
Texas: El Paso
Texas: San Antonio
Texas: Waco
Utah: Ogden
Vermont: Burlington
Virginia: Accomack*
Virginia: Norfolk
Washington: Lower Yakima*
Washington: Seattle
Washington: Tacoma
West Virginia: West Central*
West Virginia: Huntington
West Virginia: McDowell*
Wisconsin: Milwaukee
    * denotes rural designee.

Enhanced Enterprise Communities (EEC)

California: Oakland
Massachusetts: Boston
Missouri/Kansas: Kansas City, Kansas City
Texas: Houston

[FR Doc. 96-15902 Filed 6-20-96; 8:45 am]