FR Doc 2011-805[Federal Register: January 14, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 10)]
[Notices]               
[Page 2674-2676]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr14ja11-45]                       

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Proposed Waiver and Extension of Project Period

AGENCY: Office of Innovation and Improvement, Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed waiver and extension of project period.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes to waive the requirements in 34 CFR 
75.250 and 75.261(c)(2) of the Education Department General 
Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) that, respectively, generally 
prohibit project periods exceeding five years and project period 
extensions involving the obligation of additional Federal funds. The FY 
2010 appropriation provided the fifth year of funding for 60 of the 62 
Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) grants that were funded 
in FY 2006, and the fourth year of funding for the remaining two grants 
that were funded in FY 2007. The proposed waivers would enable 60 of 
the 62 current grantees under the PIRC program to continue to receive 
Federal funding beyond the five-year limitation contained in 34 CFR 
75.250 and enable the Department to obligate an additional year of 
Federal funds for all 62 current eligible grantees notwithstanding the 
limitation in 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2), which prohibits the extension of a 
project period if it involves the obligation of additional Federal 
funds. This additional year of Federal funds would be contingent on 
final Congressional action on the FY 2011 budget.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before February 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed waiver and 
extension of project period to Monique Toussaint, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 4W243, Washington, DC 20202-
5970. Telephone: (202) 260-0964.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following 
address: pirc@ed.gov. You must include the phrase ``proposed waiver and 
extension of project period'' in the subject line of your electronic 
message.

[[Page 2675]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Monique Toussaint at the address 
listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. If you use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay 
Service (FRS), toll-free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an 
accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in this section.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Invitation to Comment:
    We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice of proposed 
waiver and extension of project period. During and after the comment 
period, you may inspect all public comments about this notice of 
proposed waiver and extension of project period in room 4W335, 400 
Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. 
and 4:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week, 
except Federal holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record:
    On request, we will provide an appropriate accommodation or 
auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance 
to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking 
record for this proposed waiver and extension of project period. If you 
want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or 
auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Background:
    Under the PIRC program, the Department supports grants to help 
implement successful and effective parental involvement policies and 
activities that lead to improvements in student academic achievement 
and help partnerships among parents, teachers, principals, 
administrators, and other school personnel meet the educational needs 
of children. Section 5563(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), describes project requirements for the 
recipients of PIRC grants, including requirements to serve both rural 
and urban areas; to use at least one-half of the funds awarded to a 
project to serve areas with high concentrations of low-income families; 
and to use at least 30 percent of the funds awarded to a project to 
establish, expand, or operate early childhood parent education 
programs.
    During the first year of implementation, each PIRC received 
targeted technical assistance to conduct a five-year, high-quality 
evaluation in order to assess the impact of its services on families, 
communities, and schools. However, in order to begin the evaluation, 
each PIRC had to ensure that its services were fully implemented. For 
many projects, due to the nature of the services provided, this was not 
the case, causing significant delays in collecting baseline data during 
the first year of the project. Additionally, PIRCs conducting 
experimental design studies experienced logistical challenges 
associated with establishing treatment and control groups. An 
additional year of funding would give the PIRCs an opportunity not only 
to assess the impact of their services on families, communities, and 
schools, but to also collect additional data that could result in more 
valid and reliable findings on effective family engagement. This 
information is of particular interest to the Department, as some of 
these findings could inform policies for engaging families in 
transforming low-performing schools.
    Therefore, the Secretary proposes this waiver and extension of 
project period in order to enable each of the current grantees to 
strengthen the quality of its evaluation. We believe the additional 
time and resources will provide information that can be used to inform 
best practices regarding supporting and engaging families and 
communities in their children's education.
    The additional budget period will provide resources and time for 
each grantee to: (1) Conduct an additional round of grant activities in 
FY 2011; and, (2) collect additional information to evaluate its grant 
activities.
    For these reasons, we believe it is preferable to review requests 
for continuation awards from the current grantees and extend currently 
funded projects rather than to hold a new competition in FY 2011. 
Authorizing current grantees to request additional funds would be a 
more appropriate and effective means of facilitating the work of the 
PIRC program and would result in a more cost-effective use of Federal 
funds.
    Therefore, the Secretary proposes to waive the requirements in 34 
CFR 75.250, which prohibit project periods exceeding five years, and 
the requirements in 34 CFR 75.261(c)(2), which limit the extension of a 
project period if the extension involves the obligation of additional 
Federal funds. With these waivers: (1) Current PIRC grantees would 
receive FY 2011 funds and continue to operate through FY 2012; and, (2) 
we would not announce a new competition or make new awards under the 
PIRC program in FY 2011.
    The proposed waivers of 34 CFR 75.250 and 75.261(c)(2) would not 
affect the applicability of the requirements in 34 CFR 75.253 
(continuation of a multi-year project after the first budget period) to 
any continuation awards sought by eligible current PIRC grantees as a 
result of the waivers.
    In addition, these proposed waivers would not exempt current PIRC 
grantees from the account-closing provisions in 31 U.S.C. 1552(a), nor 
would they extend the availability of funds previously awarded to 
current PIRC grantees. Under 31 U.S.C. 1552(a), appropriated funds may 
be used for payment of valid obligations for only five years after the 
expiration of their period of availability for Federal obligation. 
After that time, the unexpended balance of those funds must be canceled 
and returned to the U.S. Treasury Department and is unavailable for 
restoration for any purpose. The waivers proposed in this notice would 
not change this requirement.
    We will announce the final waivers, if any, in a notice in the 
Federal Register. We will determine the final waivers after considering 
responses to this notice and other information available to the 
Department.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that the proposed waiver and extension of 
project period would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    The small entities that would be affected by these proposed waivers 
are:
    (a) The FY 2006 and FY 2007 PIRC grantees currently receiving 
Federal funds; and
    (b) The entities that are eligible for an award under the PIRC 
program (i.e., nonprofit organizations, or consortia of nonprofit 
organizations and local educational agencies (LEAs); and faith-based 
and community organizations if such organizations are nonprofit 
organizations, as defined in the notice of final priorities and 
eligibility requirements published in the Federal Register on March 27, 
2006 (71 FR 15308)).
    The Secretary certifies that the proposed waivers would not have a 
significant economic impact on these entities because the proposed 
waivers and the activities required to support the additional years of 
funding would not impose excessive regulatory burdens or require 
unnecessary Federal supervision. The proposed waivers would impose 
minimal requirements to

[[Page 2676]]

ensure the proper expenditure of program funds, including requirements 
that are standard for continuation awards.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This notice of proposed waiver and extension of project period does 
not contain any information collection requirements.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR 79. One of the objectives of the Executive Order 
is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened 
federalism. The Executive Order relies on processes developed by State 
and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance. This document provides early notification of our 
specific plans and actions for this program.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You can 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/news/fedregister/index.html. To use PDF you must have 
Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site.

    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.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.310A, Parental 
Information and Resource Center Program).


    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7273 et seq.

    Dated: January 10, 2011.
James H. Shelton III,
Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 2011-805 Filed 1-13-11; 8:45 am]
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