[Federal Register: July 11, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 133)]
[Notices]               
[Page 41323-41327]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr11jy03-41]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

RIN 1810-ZA08

 
Migrant Education Program Consortium Incentive Grant Program

AGENCY: Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of 
Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed requirements.

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SUMMARY: The Department proposes requirements for the Migrant Education 
Program (MEP) Consortium Incentive Grant program. Under the authority 
of section 1308(d) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 
the Department would award incentive grants to State educational 
agencies (SEAs) in high-quality consortium arrangements. The Department 
may use

[[Page 41324]]

these requirements for competitions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 and later 
years.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before August 11, 2003.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed requirements should 
be addressed to: Elsa Chagolla, Office of Migrant Education, Office of 
Elementary and Secondary Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, Room 3E257, 
FOB-6, SW., Washington, DC 20202-6135. Telephone: (202) 260-2823. If 
you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the 
following address: elsa.chagolla@ed.gov.
    If you want to comment on the information collection requirements, 
you must send your comments to the Office of Management and Budget at 
the address listed in the Paperwork Reduction Act section of this 
preamble. You may also send a copy of these comments to the Department 
representative named in this section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elsa Chagolla, Telephone: (202) 260-
2823, or via Internet: elsa.chagolla@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation To Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
requirements. During and after the comment period, you may inspect all 
public comments about these proposed requirements in room 3E257, 400 
Maryland Avenue, Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 
p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 
Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for these proposed regulations. If you want to 
schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Background

    The Migrant Education Program (MEP), authorized in Title I, Part C 
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as 
amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, is a State-operated 
and State-administered formula grant program. The MEP provides 
assistance to State educational agencies (SEAs) to support high-quality 
and comprehensive educational programs that provide migratory children 
appropriate educational and supportive services that address their 
special needs in a coordinated and efficient manner, and give migratory 
children the opportunity to meet the same challenging State academic 
content and student academic achievement standards that all children 
are expected to meet.
    Section 1308(d) of the ESEA authorizes the Secretary to ``reserve 
not more than $3 million to award grants of not more than $250,000 
[each] on a competitive basis to SEAs that propose a consortium 
arrangement with another State or other appropriate entity that the 
Secretary determines, pursuant to criteria that the Secretary shall 
establish, will improve the delivery of services to migratory children 
whose education is interrupted.''
    Through this notice, the Department proposes the new requirements, 
criteria, and procedures to award consortium incentive grants in Fiscal 
Year (FY) 2003 and subsequent years. In brief, the Department proposes 
to change: (1) The way proposed consortia are evaluated by using 
application selection criteria; and (2) the funding formula under which 
the incentive grants are awarded to SEAs that participate in consortia 
whose applications are ranked as being of sufficiently high quality. 
The Department proposes these changes for two reasons. First, it will 
promote implementation of consortia that will achieve meaningful 
results. Second, since section 1308(d) now permits the Department to 
award consortium incentive grants without SEAs having to demonstrate 
resulting MEP administrative or program function cost savings, the 
Department will be able to implement a grant selection process that 
focuses much more on the quality of proposed consortium arrangements.

Proposed Definition for Eligibility for Consortium Incentive Grants

    Section 1308(d) permits an SEA to enter into a consortium 
arrangement with another State or other appropriate entity. The 
Department proposes that the term ``other appropriate entity'' would 
mean any public or private agency or organization. However, under 
section 1308(d), only SEAs are eligible applicants to receive 
consortium incentive grants.

Proposed Application Requirements

    An application for an incentive grant would be submitted by an SEA 
that will act as the ``lead SEA'' for the proposed consortium. This 
application would include--
    1. The identity of the lead SEA for the consortium arrangement and 
of each other SEA or entity participating in the consortium 
arrangement;
    2. The goals and measurable outcomes of the consortium arrangement, 
and the activities that each participating SEA or entity in the 
consortium will conduct during each project year to improve the 
delivery of services to migratory children whose education is 
interrupted;
    3. A concise and cogent explanation of the need for and value of 
the proposed consortium arrangement to each participating SEA;
    4. A description of the process each participating SEA will use for 
evaluating its progress in achieving the measurable outcomes of the 
consortium arrangement; and
    5. A signed statement from the Chief State School Officer (or his/
her authorized representative) of each SEA that is participating in the 
proposed consortium arrangement of his/her SEA's commitment to 
implement its activities as described in the application.

Proposed Absolute Priorities

    Section 75.105(c)(3) of the Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) authorizes the Department to 
establish absolute preferences under which all of a program's funding 
is reserved for applicants that meet this priority. For competitions in 
FY 2003 and later years, the Department proposes the following seven 
absolute priorities that promote key national objectives of the MEP. In 
order for SEAs to be considered for incentive grants, a proposed 
consortium arrangement would need to address one or more of the 
following absolute priorities:
    1. Services designed to improve the proper and timely 
identification and recruitment of eligible migratory children whose 
education is interrupted;
    2. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to improve the school readiness of pre-school age migratory 
children whose education is interrupted;

[[Page 41325]]

    3. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to improve the reading proficiency of migratory children 
whose education is interrupted;
    4. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to improve the mathematics proficiency of migratory children 
whose education is interrupted;
    5. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to decrease the dropout rate of migratory students (i.e. 
grades 7 to 12) whose education is interrupted and improve high school 
completion rates;
    6. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to strengthen the involvement of migratory parents in the 
education of migratory students whose education is interrupted; and
    7. Services designed (based on review of scientifically based 
research) to expand access to innovative educational technologies 
intended to increase the academic achievement of migratory students 
whose education is interrupted.
    Specifically, an SEA wishing to receive an incentive grant would 
need to be a partner within a consortium that focuses on one or more of 
these seven key priorities. The Department believes that these seven 
priorities reflect the most pressing needs of migratory students that 
warrant particular attention through work in consortium arrangements.
    The area of identification and recruitment is a critical first 
component of any migrant education program, and one in which consortium 
activities have proven useful and effective. The areas of early 
childhood education, reading and mathematics achievement, parental 
involvement, and reduction in the migrant dropout rate are critical to 
ensuring that migratory students stay in school and achieve to high 
academic content and academic performance standards. However, to date, 
these areas have not been a primary focus of consortia efforts. As 
school interruption and low levels of student achievement continue to 
be dominant characteristics of the migrant student population, finding 
innovative uses of electronic technologies to assist students away from 
home to continue to master State content and academic achievement 
standards also remains a priority.
    In proposing these particular priorities to govern receipt of 
consortium incentive grants, the Department understands that migratory 
students have other significant needs that also warrant the focused 
attention of interstate and interagency consortia. These efforts, in 
areas such as improving the responsiveness of teachers to migrant 
student needs, transfer of key education and health records, and 
increasing the numbers of migratory students who take and pass State 
assessments, are clearly important and should continue. However, the 
Department believes that migratory students will be better served at 
this time by targeting special financial incentives to SEAs that 
participate in high-quality consortia that focus on one or more of the 
proposed seven absolute priorities.

Proposed Amount and Duration of Incentive Grants

    The Department proposes that an SEA that participates in a high-
quality consortium arrangement, as determined by use of the program's 
selection criteria, would receive only one incentive grant award 
regardless of the number of high-quality consortia in which it 
participates.
    Rather than determine the amount of grant awards on the basis of a 
cost analysis as described in section 75.232 of the EDGAR, the 
Department would make awards to SEAs participating in these consortia 
on the basis of the following two-tiered formula: For each project 
period, SEAs whose MEP allocations are $1 million or less would receive 
a grant award that is twice the amount of the award provided to SEAs 
whose MEP allocations are greater than $1 million. Within each tier, 
awards would be of equal size. However, no SEA would receive an 
incentive grant award that exceeds the amount of its Title I, Part C 
MEP formula grant or $250,000, whichever is less.
    It should be noted that, because these requirements would prohibit 
an SEA from receiving a consortium incentive grant award that exceeds 
its MEP formula allocation, some SEAs with MEP allocations of $1 
million or less may not receive a consortium incentive grant award that 
is twice the amount of the award provided to SEAs whose MEP allocations 
are greater than $1 million.
    In proposing to award only one incentive grant per SEA and to 
utilize a two-tiered formula, subject to the limitations discussed 
above, for making incentive grants, the Department is recognizing that 
these awards are by law, only ``incentives'' for SEAs to enter into 
high-quality consortium arrangements, and as such are not necessarily 
intended to pay the costs of consortium activities.
    While the award of these grants offers all SEAs an incentive to 
participate in consortium arrangements, the use of this two-tiered 
formula would recognize the particular resource needs of SEAs whose 
MEPs are $1 million or less. Section 1303(d)(1) directs the Department 
to specifically consult with SEAs that receive MEP allocations of $1 
million or less in order to determine whether their participation in 
consortium arrangements would result in the delivery of MEP services in 
a more effective and efficient manner.
    On February 25, 2003, officials of the Department's Office of 
Migrant Education (OME) met with the MEP Directors from those SEAs that 
receive an MEP allocation of $1 million or less in order to discuss 
their States' special needs. One of the foremost concerns these State 
MEP Directors raised was the need to receive a consortium incentive 
grant fund amount large enough to encourage and enable their State 
MEPs' full participation in consortium arrangements. Responding to a 
possible option of having all SEAs that participated in high-quality 
consortia receive the same size consortium incentive grant, 
participants recommended that the Department consider awarding a higher 
consortium incentive grant amount to those States that receive MEP 
grants of $1 million or less.
    The idea of awarding a higher level of consortium incentive grant 
funds to SEAs that receive MEP allocations of $1 million or less was 
later proposed to all the State MEP Directors in attendance at the 
February 26-27, 2003 Annual Meeting of State MEP Directors, and no 
objections were raised.
    In short, the proposed two-tiered approach for awarding consortium 
incentive grants eliminates the costs and burdens associated with the 
individual SEAs and consortia preparing and reviewing their estimated 
cost savings, as was required under this program in prior years.
    Based on these consultations with the State MEP Directors, the 
Department believes that the proposed two-tiered funding formula offers 
two advantages over other proposals. First, with little burden on SEAs, 
it provides a reasonable and efficient basis for awarding consortium 
incentive grant funds. In addition, it will assist those SEAs that 
receive MEP allocations of $1 million or less obtain the funds they 
need to participate effectively in consortium arrangements, while also 
administering and operating their State MEPs.
    For FY 2003, the Department proposes to reserve $2.5 million for 
consortium incentive awards. The amount of awards in future years would 
vary and would be announced prior to any future competition. With a 
$2.5

[[Page 41326]]

million reservation of funds, the annual award to SEAs participating in 
consortium arrangements would vary from $35,738 (if all 52 SEAs 
received grants under this competition) to $250,000 (the statutory 
maximum). Based on the number of States that received consortium 
incentive grants (39) in FY 2002, the size of an annual award would be 
$45,997 for SEAs whose MEP allocations are greater than $1 million and 
$91,995 for SEAs whose MEP allocations are $1 million or less. The 
actual size of an SEA's award will depend on the number of SEAs that 
will participate in high-quality consortium arrangements as determined 
on the basis of this program's selection criteria, and the size of an 
SEA's MEP formula grant allocation.
    Consortium incentive grants would be awarded for up to two years. 
(For example, the Department would not conduct a new incentive grant 
competition with FY 2004 funds; rather it would use FY 2004 funds for 
second-year continuation awards to those SEAs receiving FY 2003 
incentive awards.) Pursuant to section 75.118 and 75.590 of EDGAR, each 
SEA that receives a consortium incentive grant award would submit a 
performance report (through the consortium's lead State) toward the end 
of the first project year, and a final evaluation report at the end of 
the second year. Eligibility of each SEA for second-year continuation 
funding would depend on that State's substantial performance of first-
year consortium activities and attaining the outcomes identified in the 
approved consortium application.

Proposed Selection Criteria

    The Department proposes to use the selection criteria from the 
general criteria for competitive grants contained in section 75.210 of 
EDGAR to evaluate applications for the incentive grants competition. 
The proposed selection criteria can be found in the application 
package, which is available on the following Web site: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/OME/index.html.
 Applications would be reviewed 
and ranked on the basis of how well the information provided responds 
to these final selection criteria. Regardless of the number of 
consortium incentive grant applications ranked as being of sufficiently 
high quality in which an SEA participates, each SEA would receive only 
one incentive grant award.

Proposed Use of Consortium Incentive Grant Funds

    An SEA that receives an incentive grant award would use this 
financial incentive to supplement its MEP formula grant funds provided 
under ESEA section 1303(a). Therefore, the SEA could use incentive 
grant funds to implement the consortium arrangement's activities or to 
carry out any other activities authorized under section 1306(b) of the 
ESEA. Moreover, general requirements governing the use and reporting of 
awarded funds would be governed by provisions of part 76 of EDGAR, 
which govern State-administered formula grant programs rather than 
provisions of part 75 of EDGAR, which govern discretionary grant 
programs.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Department certifies that these proposed requirements would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. Entities that would be affected by these regulations are SEA. 
The information burden on each of these groups consists only of the 
time and resources needed to submit grant applications. Hence, the 
regulations would not have a significant impact on any entity because 
they would not impose excessive regulatory burden or require 
unnecessary Federal supervision.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The proposed criteria in this notice identified in the section 
entitled ``Application Requirements,'' contain information collection 
requirements. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3507(d)), the Department of Education has submitted a copy of this 
notice and the information collection to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) for its review.
    Collection of Information: Migrant Education Program Consortium 
Incentive Grant program.
    Applicants for MEP Consortium Incentive Grant funds would need to 
submit a program application that responds to the selection criteria 
announced in this notice. Applicants also would need to provide certain 
minimum information identified in the ``Application Requirements'' 
section of this notice.
    We collect information once from applicants for this program. We 
estimate annual reporting and recordkeeping burden for this collection 
of information to average 50.67 hours for each application for 15 SEA 
respondents, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching 
existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and 
completing and reviewing the collection of information. Thus, we 
estimate the total annual reporting and recordkeeping burden for this 
collection on all those preparing application under the State Program 
to be a total of 380 hours.
    If you want to comment on the information collection requirements, 
please send your comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory 
Affairs, OMB, room 10235, New Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 
20503; Attention: Desk Officer for U.S. Department of Education. You 
may also send a copy of these comments to the Department representative 
named in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble.
    We consider your comments on this proposed collection of 
information in--
    [sbull] Deciding whether the proposed collection is necessary for 
the proper performance of our functions, including whether the 
information will have practical use;
    [sbull] Evaluating the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of 
the proposed collection, including the validity of our methodology and 
assumptions;
    [sbull] Enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the 
information we collect; and
    [sbull] Minimizing the burden on those who must respond. This 
includes exploring the use of appropriate automated, electronic, 
mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms 
of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of 
responses.
    OMB is required to make a decision concerning the collections of 
information contained in these proposed regulations between 30 and 60 
days after publication of this document in the Federal Register. 
Therefore, to ensure that OMB gives your comments full consideration, 
it is important that OMB receives the comments within 30 days of 
publication. This does not affect the deadline for your comments to us 
on the proposed regulations.
    Requests for copies of the proposed application packages for the 
Migrant Education Program Consortium Incentive Grant program may be 
accessed at http://edicsweb.ed.gov, or should be addressed to Vivian 
Reese, Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 5624, 
Regional Office Building 3, Washington, D.C. 20202-4651. Requests may 
also be electronically mailed to the Internet address OCIO_IMG_
Issues@ed.gov or faxed to 202-708-9346.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR Part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive 
order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened 
federalism. The Executive

[[Page 41327]]

order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for 
coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document is intended to provide early notification of our 
specific plans and actions for this program.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.
    You may also view this document in text at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/OME/index.html.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html.


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.144: (Migrant 
Education Coordination Program)

    Dated: July 7, 2003.
Eugene W. Hickok,
Under Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. 03-17532 Filed 7-10-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P