FR Doc 03-31010
[Federal Register: December 18, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 243)]
[Page 70497-70500]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
Download: PDF Version



Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of
Education; Notice of Intent to Award Grantback Funds to the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education

SUMMARY: Under section 459 of the General Education Provisions Act
(GEPA), 20 U.S.C. 1234h, the Secretary of Education (Secretary) intends
to repay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education
(MADOE), under a grantback agreement, an amount equal to 75 percent of
the principal amount of funds recovered by the U.S. Department of
Education (Department) in resolution of findings 42, 51, 54, 57, and 60
of the State's Single Audit Reports for the years ended June 30, 1997
(ACN: 01-97-88064); June 30, 1998 (ACN: 01-98-08038); and June 30, 1999
(ACN: 01-99-08038), respectively. The Department's recovery of funds
followed two settlement agreements executed by the parties under which
the MADOE refunded $2,432,628 to the Department in full resolution of
the findings noted above. The MADOE has submitted to the Department a
grantback application in accordance with section 459(a) of GEPA. This
notice describes the MADOE's plan for use of the repaid funds and the
terms and conditions under which the Secretary intends to make those
funds available. This notice also invites comments on the proposed

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before January 20, 2004.

ADDRESSES: All written comments should be addressed to Maurice James,
Chief, State Administration Branch, Office of Vocational and Adult
Education, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Mary
E. Switzer Building, Room 4319, MS 7323, Washington, DC 20202.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maurice James. Telephone: (202) 205-
8781 or via Internet at:
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.


A. Background

    Under two settlement agreements between the Department and the
MADOE, the Department recovered $3,841,433 from the MADOE in full
resolution of claims arising under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and
Technical Education Act of 1998 (Perkins III), 20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.,
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20
U.S.C. 6301 et seq., and the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1401, 1411-1419. Of the total amount
recovered under the two agreements, $2,432,628 resolved Perkins III-
related findings cited in Massachusetts' Single Audit Reports covering
State fiscal years (FYs) 1997 (ACN: 01-97-88064), 1998 (ACN: 01-98-
98009) and 1999 (ACN: 01-99-08038). In its grantback application, the
MADOE requests repayment of 75 percent of the $2,432,628 recovered by
the Department for Perkins III-related claims.
    The Department's claim of $2,432,628 for Perkins III-related
findings was contained in a May 25, 2001 program determination letter
(PDL) and accompanying Matrix of Closed Findings (Matrix) issued by the
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education and other
Department officials. The Matrix noted that the MADOE violated the
Federal requirements governing matching and time distribution.
Specifically, the MADOE failed to match, from non-Federal sources and
on a dollar-for-dollar basis, Federal funds reserved for State
administration. In addition, the MADOE failed to keep proper time
distribution records for salaries and fringe benefits paid with Perkins
III funds. These findings were resolved through the Department's
Cooperative Audit Resolution and Oversight Initiative (CAROI).

[[Page 70498]]

    The CAROI process culminated in the two settlement agreements under
which the MADOE refunded to the Department a principal amount of
$2,432,628 for Perkins III-related claims. The settlement agreements
were executed in May 2001. The Department received full payment for
these determinations in October 2001.

B. Authority for Awarding a Grantback

    Section 459(a) of GEPA, 20 U.S.C. 1234h(a), provides that whenever
the Secretary has recovered funds following a final audit determination
with respect to any applicable program, the Secretary may consider
those funds to be additional funds available for the program and may
arrange to repay to the State or local educational agency affected by
that determination an amount not to exceed 75 percent of the recovered
funds. The Secretary may enter into this grantback arrangement if the
Secretary determines that--
    (1) The practices or procedures of the recipient that resulted in
the violation of law have been corrected and the recipient is in all
other respects in compliance with the requirements of that program;
    (2) The recipient has submitted to the Secretary a plan for the use
of those funds pursuant to the requirements of that program and, to the
extent possible, for the benefit of the population that was affected by
the failure to comply or by the misuse of funds that resulted in the
recovery; and
    (3) The use of the funds in accordance with that plan would serve
to achieve the purposes of the program under which the funds were
originally paid.

C. Plan for Use of Funds Awarded Under a Grantback Arrangement

    Pursuant to section 459(a)(2) of GEPA, the MADOE has applied for a
grantback of $1,824,471, or 75 percent of the $2,432,628 refunded to
the Department for Perkins III-related claims under the two settlement
agreements, and has submitted a plan for use of the proposed grantback
funds, consistent with Perkins III. The MADOE has implemented a system
to address the requirement in Perkins III to match administration costs
on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The MADOE will not count towards the
match any State administrative expenditures for staff that are not 100
percent related to vocational education. The positions funded from
Perkins III administrative funds will be supported by monthly time
sheets, and their costs will be counted toward the match.
    A May 2002 on-site monitoring visit by Department staff confirmed
that the MADOE has implemented policies and procedures for the process
and reconciliation of salary charges to Federal programs, including the
Perkins III account. Adjustments will be made to the Federal accounts
in a timely manner, and any excess charges will be the responsibility
of the State. The salary adjustment plan that was implemented specified
a monthly reporting requirement. There are no plans to alter these
procedures. There were no questioned costs in this area based on the FY
2002 audit conducted by the independent public accounting firm of
Deloitte and Touche.

D. Consultation in the Development of the Grantback Application

    In developing the grantback application, the MADOE states that it
solicited input from:
    [sbull] Secondary and postsecondary educators in the State;
    [sbull] Workforce training and development organizations;
    [sbull] Massachusetts Community College Executive Office;
    [sbull] Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators;
    [sbull] Massachusetts Tech Prep Roundtable;
    [sbull] Massachusetts Postsecondary Perkins Committee.
    According to the MADOE, each constituency group reviewed and
supported the identified priorities. The priorities include:
    [sbull] Improving the transition of career and technical education
(CTE) students from high school to college CTE programs;
    [sbull] Supporting the development and implementation of Statewide
secondary to postsecondary ``pathways'' in information technology,
health and pre-engineering career fields;
    [sbull] Increasing the participation and completion of CTE programs
that lead to nontraditional training and employment;
    [sbull] Increasing the pool of highly qualified vocational
technical educators through a Web-based licensing and job bank system
and an improved pre-service program for new vocational technical
educators; and
    [sbull] Providing support to Perkins-eligible secondary and
postsecondary schools and colleges to add new CTE programs for
occupations in information technology, health and pre-engineering, or
to assist these schools and colleges in attaining national program
approval or business and industry standards in these three areas.
    The MADOE's grantback application indicates that the Executive
Director for the Massachusetts Community College System is especially
supportive of the grantback priority that focuses on the improvement of
postsecondary CTE student retention and graduation rates. Approximately
50 percent of the proposed grantback activities will support a
strengthened partnership between secondary and postsecondary education

E. Description of the State's Current Activities Under the Applicable

    The MADOE's CTE unit is directly responsible for administering
programs authorized under Perkins III. The unit is also responsible for
approving programs under Charter 74 (the State law for CTE) and for
providing technical assistance to school districts, community colleges,
and other agencies on issues related to the transition from school to
    According to the MADOE, over the past three years, the CTE unit has
focused its work on addressing the four core indicators in the State's
Perkins accountability system. These efforts address:
    [sbull] Improving academic and technical skill gains for secondary
and postsecondary CTE students;
    [sbull] Increasing the number of CTE students graduating from high
school and receiving a two-year associate degree or a one- or two-year
    [sbull] Improving the placement of students in technical careers
related to their fields of study; and
    [sbull] Increasing the number of students enrolled in and
completing nontraditional programs.
    To reach these goals the CTE unit has focused on:
    [sbull] Supporting whole school restructuring through the State's
membership in the High Schools that Work initiative. The State network
is comprised of 30 high schools, including many of the most challenged
schools in the Commonwealth;
    [sbull] Offering State-sponsored professional development
highlighting ``best practices'' that lead to improved student
achievement. Perkins III local recipients provide high-quality
professional development through the use of a mandated ``15 percent or
more set-aside'' of State leadership funds. The State has designed its
professional development programs in a manner intended to increase
teachers' knowledge of academic and technical subject matter and to
support school-wide academic initiatives in such areas as reading,
writing and mathematics;
    [sbull] Providing additional financial resources to school
districts' CTE programs through the MADOE's ``Academic Support Grants''
to increase the number of CTE students passing the

[[Page 70499]]

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam (a requirement for
receiving a high school diploma);
    [sbull] Encouraging and supporting schools and colleges in applying
for and receiving national program approval and helping students to
earn industry or State-recognized credentials;
    [sbull] Supporting the development of a career and technical
assessment system that would lead to issuing a certificate of
occupational proficiency;
    [sbull] Providing strong tech-prep programs that lead to increased
numbers of CTE students successfully transitioning to and completing
two-year and four-year postsecondary programs of study; and
    [sbull] Providing technical assistance and professional development
specifically targeted to increasing the number of CTE students
enrolling in and completing nontraditional programs.
    In its grantback application, the MADOE states that for the past
two years, the CTE unit's administration and staff have analyzed the
data collected from their work addressing the four core indicators and
identified particular areas of need for the focus of the grantback
application. In addition, the Perkins program compliance audit,
conducted in May 2002 by a team from the Department's Office of
Vocational and Adult Education, and subsequent report support the need
for the initiatives outlined in the grantback application.

F. Proposed Initiatives

    The following is a description of the seven proposed initiatives,
as outlined in the MADOE's grantback application:
    (1) Successful transition of CTE students from high school to
college--competitive grant program.
    The MADOE proposes to offer a competitive request for proposal
(RFP) to Perkins-eligible secondary and postsecondary institutions to
develop collaborative programs that focus on intensive college
transition and preparation programs for CTE high school students. This
initiative would focus on the academic and technical preparedness
needed for a student's success at the postsecondary level. Programs
would include academic school year preparedness and transition
activities with an intensive summer program for entering college
    (2) Development and dissemination of Statewide secondary-to-
postsecondary pathways in information technology, health and pre-
engineering/engineering career fields.
    The MADOE's CTE unit proposes to develop specific high school-to-
college (four-year high school to one-year, two-year and four-year
college) program pathways in health, information technology and
engineering. Competencies, course and program sequencing, syllabi,
curricula, articulation processes, workplace opportunities and
assessment models will be identified in all three career areas. All of
the resources produced as part of this initiative will be posted at the
CTE unit's Web site for employers, schools and colleges. The CTE unit
also will provide professional development opportunities to support
Statewide implementation of the pathway models. This initiative will be
aligned with and be part of the implementation of the new system to
issue Certificates of Occupational Proficiency and the new
Massachusetts Vocational-Technical Career 74 Regulations.
    (3) Workplace models in high-wage, high-demand career and technical
education pathways--competitive grant program.
    The MADOE proposes to issue a competitive RFP to Perkins-eligible
school districts and colleges to develop and provide workplace models
in health, information technology and engineering program pathways.
Program models must include intensive workplace projects, employer
mentoring, academic and technical skill competency attainment related
to course content, collaborative project development that includes
industry employees and high school and college staff, and assessment of
both product outcomes for industry and academic and technical skill
gain by students.
    (4) Increased participation in and completion of technical
education programs that lead to nontraditional training and employment.
    The MADOE is proposing a two-pronged study to alter current career
and technical education enrollment patterns. A contractor will be
selected through a competitive ``request for response'' (RFR) process
to study the current nontraditional enrollment patterns in secondary
career and technical education programs. The study will examine the
underlying factors for selecting a career major and take into
consideration any recent research done in the field. The study will
also include actions that the MADOE and school districts can take to
help alter current secondary career and technical education enrollment
    (5) Web-based Perkins accountability system.
    The MADOE proposes to develop a Web-based application for licensing
vocational technical educators. This will be an enhancement to the
State's current ``Educator Licensure and Recruitment'' system, known as
ELAR. The system will allow applicants to request waivers, search jobs
and post resumes, and make fee payments online. It will be linked to
the State's educator preparation education programs and its vocational
educator testing center. The new system will include an on-line faculty
register that will be used by MADOE staff to ensure that all current
vocational technical education teachers employed by school districts
and collaboratives have the appropriate credentials.
    (6) High-wage, high-demand career and technical education--
competitive grant program.
    The MADOE will issue a competitive RFP for Perkins-eligible
secondary and postsecondary institutions with career and technical
programs. Grantees will use funds either to begin a new CTE program in
high-wage, high-demand fields within the three cluster areas or to
update existing programs in those clusters to align with national
program standards or industry-recognized certifications. The MADOE
believes that there is an inadequate number of technically skilled
workers to fill the jobs being created in technology-driven services.
As a result of rapid growth in this sector, demand for professional and
technical workers, including in fields requiring less than a four-year
degree for entry-level positions, is expected to expand the fastest and
generate the most new jobs in the State. It is also expected that
engineering and architectural services will grow by 13 percent and
generate 4,300 new jobs. Of the 25 fastest growing occupations in the
State, more than half are related to information technology and health
    (7) Vocational technical education teachers' pre-service training.
    The Massachusetts Board of Education recently approved a new set of
vocational technical education regulations that became effective on
September 1, 2003. The teacher credentialing portion of the regulations
contains a new provision that requires vocational technical education
teacher candidates to earn 21 college degree credits in professional
education courses. These courses include a three credit college degree
seminar specifically designed for new teachers. New teachers will be
required to take these courses in their first year of teaching. As part
of the State's effort to prepare first-year vocational technical
education teachers better, a ``new teachers tool kit'' will be
developed in consultation with the State's three vocational technical
educator preparation programs. The tool kit will

[[Page 70500]]

be based upon the professional standards for vocational technical
education teachers contained in the regulations. Topics covered in the
tool kit may include, but are not limited to, student grading,
assigning and reviewing homework, classroom management, lesson
planning, developing a course syllabus and project-based learning, and
pertinent State and Federal laws and regulations.

G. The Secretary's Determination

    The Secretary has carefully reviewed the plan submitted by the
MADOE and other relevant documentation. Based upon that review, the
Secretary has determined that the conditions under section 459(a) of
GEPA have been met.
    This determination is based upon the best information available to
the Secretary at the present time. If this information is not accurate
or complete, the Secretary is not precluded from taking appropriate
administrative action. In finding that the conditions of section 459(a)
of GEPA have been met, the Secretary makes no determination concerning
any pending audit recommendations or other investigations.

H. Notice of the Secretary's Intent To Enter Into a Grantback

    Section 459(d) of GEPA requires that, at least 30 days before
entering into an agreement to award funds under a grantback
arrangement, the Secretary publish in the Federal Register a notice of
intent to do so, and the terms and conditions under which the payment
will be made.
    In accordance with section 459(d) of GEPA, notice is hereby given
that the Secretary intends to make funds available to the MADOE under a
grantback agreement. The grantback award would be in the amount of
$1,824,471, which is 75 percent--the maximum percentage authorized by
GEPA--of the principal recovered by the Department as a result of the
final audit determinations and resolution of the Perkins III-related

I. Terms and Conditions Under Which Payments Under a Grantback
Arrangement Would Be Made

    The MADOE has agreed to comply with the following terms and
conditions under which payment under a grantback arrangement would be
    (1) The MADOE will expend the funds awarded under the grantback in
accordance with --
    (a) All applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
    (b) The plan that was submitted and any amendments to the plan that
are approved in advance by the Secretary; and
    (2) All funds received under this grantback arrangement must be
obligated by September 30, 2004, in accordance with section 459(c) of
GEPA and the MADOE's plan;
    (3) The MADOE will, no later than 90 calendar days after the
expiration date of the approved grantback award, submit a report to the
Secretary that--
    (a) Indicates that the funds awarded under the grantback have been
expended in accordance with the proposed plan, and
    (b) Describes the results and effectiveness of the projects for
which the funds were spent; and
    (4) Separate accounting records must be maintained documenting the
expenditures of funds awarded under the grantback arrangement.

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:

    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.

    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:

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.048, Basic State
Grants for Vocational Education)

    Dated: December 11, 2003.
Richard T. LaPointe,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
[FR Doc. 03-31010 Filed 12-17-03; 8:45 am]