DEADLINE FOR TRANSMITTAL OF APPLICATIONS: There is no specific deadline for transmittal of applications. However, because the Secretary is authorized to grant Ed-Flex status to only a limited number of States, SEAs are encouraged to submit their Ed-Flex applications as soon as possible. The Secretary will review applications as they are received in accordance with the criteria set forth in the Act.
ADDRESSES: Applications should be sent to Richard W. Riley, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, Education Flexibility Partnership Demonstration Program, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 6300, Washington, D.C. 20202.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas W. Fagan, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W., Portals Building, Room 4000, Washington, D.C. 20202-2110. Telephone: (202) 401-0039.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Ed-Flex program is an educational flexibility demonstration program under which the Secretary may grant up to six SEAs the authority to waive certain Federal statutory or regulatory requirements applicable to one or more of the following programs or Acts:
To be eligible to apply under the Ed-Flex program, an SEA must serve an "eligible State." Section 311(e)(3) of the Act defines an "eligible State" as one that: (1) has developed a State improvement plan under Goals 2000 that is approved by the Secretary; and (2) waives State statutory or regulatory requirements relating to education, while holding LEAs or schools within the State that are affected by the waivers accountable for the performance of their students.
The Secretary will select for participation in the Ed-Flex program three States with a population of 3,500,000 or greater, and three States with a population of less than 3,500,000, as determined by the 1990 decennial census. For the purpose of this program, section 3(a)(14) of the Act defines "State" to include the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
An SEA serving an "eligible State" may submit its application at any time. The Secretary is prepared to review Ed- Flex applications as soon as they are received and to grant Ed- Flex waiver authority to an SEA whose application demonstrates a substantial promise of assisting the SEA and affected LEAs and schools in the State in carrying out comprehensive education reform and otherwise meeting the purposes of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. An SEA that serves an "eligible State" and desires to participate in the program is encouraged to submit its Ed-Flex application as soon as possible because only six applicants may receive the Secretary's delegated waiver authority.
II. What Information Should Be Included in an SEA's Ed-Flex Application?
To be considered for participation in the Ed-Flex program, an SEA must serve an "eligible State" and submit to the Secretary an application demonstrating that the State has adopted an educational flexibility (Ed-Flex) plan that meets the requirements of section 311(e)(4) of the Act. Specifically, the Ed-Flex plan must: (1) describe the process the SEA will use to evaluate applications from LEAs or schools requesting waivers of Federal statutory or regulatory requirements for covered programs, as well as State statutory or regulatory requirements relating to education; and (2) describe in detail the State statutory and regulatory requirements relating to education that the SEA will waive. An applicant must have the legal authority to grant waivers of the State requirements that it proposes to waive and agree to grant these waivers when it is appropriate to do so.
The Ed-Flex waiver authority is designed to facilitate a State's systemic reform efforts by giving the SEA the authority to waive certain Federal requirements that impede the ability of the SEA, or any LEA or school within the State, from carrying out State or local improvement plans developed under Title III of Goals 2000. Therefore, the Ed-Flex plan should be integrated with the State's improvement plan under Goals 2000. When developing its Ed-Flex plan, an SEA is encouraged to consult with the State panel that developed the State's Goals 2000 State improvement plan. An SEA that obtains approval of a pre-existing plan under section 306(q) of the Act is encouraged to consult with those responsible for developing the pre-existing plan.
III. What Criteria Will Be Used by the Secretary to Evaluate Ed- Flex Applications?
In accordance with section 311(e)(4)(B) of the Act, the Secretary will approve an Ed-Flex application only if he determines that the application demonstrates substantial promise of assisting the SEA and affected LEAs and schools within the State in carrying out comprehensive reform and meeting the purposes of the Act. Section 311(e)(4)(B) also provides that the Secretary will consider the following criteria in evaluating Ed- Flex partnership applications: (1) the comprehensiveness and quality of the State's Ed-Flex plan; (2) the ability of the plan to ensure accountability for the activities and goals described in the plan; (3) the significance of the State statutory or regulatory requirements relating to education that the State will waive; and (4) the quality of the SEA's process for approving applications for waivers of the covered Federal statutory or regulatory requirements and for monitoring and evaluating the results of the waivers. As stated previously, to be eligible to apply, an SEA must serve an "eligible State" -- that is, a State that (1) has developed a State improvement plan under Goals 2000 that is approved by the Secretary; and (2) waives State statutory or regulatory requirements relating to education, while holding LEAs or schools within the State that are affected by the waivers accountable for the performance of their students.
In preparing applications that address these statutory criteria, SEAs are encouraged to examine carefully the following questions:
An SEA is not required to answer specifically each of these questions in its application. Rather, the questions have been provided as guidance to assist SEAs in the preparation of Ed-Flex applications that address the statutory criteria. The Secretary encourages SEAs to consider these issues or any other factors that may demonstrate that the conditions of section 311(e) of the Act have been met. There is not a particular application form that must be completed for this program.
IV. What Federal Statutory and Regulatory Requirements May an Ed-Flex Partnership State Waive?
Section 311(e)(2)(A) of the Act provides that an Ed-Flex Partnership State may waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the following programs or Acts:
The Ed-Flex Partnership State will not be authorized to waive any Federal statutory or regulatory requirement of the above-referenced programs or Acts relating to: (1) maintenance of effort; (2) comparability of services; (3) the equitable participation of students and professional staff in private schools; (4) parental participation and involvement; and (5) the distribution of funds to States or to local educational agencies. In addition, Ed-Flex States will not be permitted to waive Federal civil rights requirements or Federal health and safety requirements.
V. What is the Duration of the Ed-Flex Waiver Authority?
The Secretary will approve an SEA's Ed-Flex waiver authority for up to five years. The period may be extended if the SEA's authority to grant waivers has been effective in enabling the State or affected LEAs or schools to carry out their reform plans. In addition, the Secretary may terminate the waiver authority at any time if he determines, after notice and opportunity for hearing, that an SEA's performance has been inadequate to justify the continuation of the waiver authority.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980
This notice involves information collection requirements. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, the Department of Education will submit a copy of the application requirements and selection criteria to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review. (44 U.S.C. 3504(h)).
SEAs are eligible to apply for the waiver authority under this program. The Department needs and uses the information in determining which States will be designated as Ed-Flex Partnership States under this program. The public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 80 hours per response for approximately 50 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.
Organizations and individuals desiring to submit comments on the information collection requirements should direct them to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Room 10325, New Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20503; Attention: Daniel J. Chenok.
Dated: January 13, 1995Richard W. Riley
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. 95-1418 Filed 1-19-95; 8:45am]
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