Hurricane Educator Assistance Program

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Frequently Asked Questions


Background
  1. What is the purpose of the Hurricane Educator Assistance Program (HEAP)?

    HEAP's purpose is to provide funding to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to help recruit, retain, and compensate educators who commit to work for at least three years in an area in which a major disaster area was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

  2. How will the U.S. Department of Education (ED) award funds under the program?

    Consistent with the legislation, ED will base allocations on the number of public elementary and secondary schools in each State that were closed for 19 days or more during the period beginning on August 29, 2005 and ending on December 31, 2005, due to Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

  3. Does the 19-day period have to have occurred as a result of one hurricane or the other?

    No. The 19-day period may have occurred as a result of one hurricane, or a combination of the two hurricanes. However, the affected school must have been closed for a total of 19 school days.

  4. For what purposes must a State educational agency (SEA) use its HEAP allocation?

    An SEA must use its allocation to award subgrants to eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) to support the recruitment, retention, and compensation of new and current teachers, principals, assistant principals, principal resident directors, assistant directors, and other educators, who commit to work for at least three years in school-based positions in public elementary and secondary schools in an area in which a major disaster area was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

    The SEA may also use the funds to award subgrants to: 1) build the capacity, knowledge, and skill of teachers and school-based school principals, assistant principals, principal resident directors, assistant directors, and other educators in such public elementary and secondary schools to provide an effective education, including the capacity, knowledge, and skill to design, adapt, and implement high-quality formative assessments; 2) establish partnerships with nonprofit entities with a demonstrated track record in recruiting and retaining outstanding teachers and other school-based school principals, assistant principals, principal resident directors, and assistant directors; and 3) pay release time for teachers and principals to identify and replicate successful practices from the fastest-improving and highest-performing schools.


The SEA Award Process
  1. How will SEAs determine the level of funding to be provided to eligible LEAs?

    SEAs have the flexibility of using a formula or a competitive process to disburse funds to eligible LEAs. Regardless of the method used to disburse funds, the SEA must first give priority to LEAs with the highest percentages of public elementary and secondary schools that were closed as a result of the hurricanes as of May 25, 2007. The SEA must then give priority to LEAs with the highest percentages of public elementary and secondary schools with a student-teacher ratio of at least 25 to 1. Any remaining funding may then be distributed to other LEAs with demonstrated need, as determined by the State Superintendent of Education.

    Priority of Funding
    1. LEAs with highest percentage of schools closed as of 5/25/07
    2. LEAs with highest percentage of schools with a student-teacher ratio of at least 25 to 1
    3. LEAs with other demonstrated need

    Note: It is possible that all of the SEA’s funding may be disbursed based solely on the first priority, or on the first and second priorities only.

  2. The SEA allocation is based on the number of public elementary and secondary schools in each State that were closed for 19 days or more due to Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. Does this mean that SEAs may only award subgrants to LEAs with schools that were closed for at least 19 days?

    No. The 19-day requirement is only for computing the amount each SEA will receive from ED. SEAs may award subgrants to LEAs with at least one public school in an area in which a major disaster area was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. However, in making subgrants, SEAs must still follow the priority of funding described in Question #1.

  3. What are the deadlines for the submission of applications by LEAs?

    Each SEA will set an appropriate deadline or deadlines for the submission of applications.

  4. May an SEA use a portion of its HEAP allocation to defray the costs of administering the program?

    Yes. An SEA may charge to the HEAP program reasonable and necessary costs of administering the program effectively.

  5. May SEAs reserve a portion of their HEAP allocation to provide services or assistance to educators in non-public schools?

    No. The program legislation does not provide for such services or assistance.


Allowable Services or Assistance
  1. What kinds of recruitment, retention, and compensation activities or services may SEAs and participating LEAs support with HEAP funds?

    An SEA may use its HEAP funds to support the following types of local activities or services:

    • Salary premiums;
    • Performance bonuses;
    • Housing subsidies;
    • Signing bonuses;
    • Relocation costs;
    • Loan forgiveness; and
    • Other mechanisms aimed at recruiting and retaining educators.

    In designing its subgrant process, within the broad legislative parameters, each SEA may determine the specific types of activities that participating LEAs may support with HEAP funds.

  2. 1a. What kinds of activities fall under the definition of “other mechanisms aimed at recruiting and retaining educators”?

    Most of the statutory examples of recruitment and retention activities result in direct compensation to the educator; however, this category includes any mechanism that directly results in recruiting educators or retaining educators, whether or not it results in direct compensation to an educator. For example, LEAs could use funds for recruitment activities, such as recruitment fairs or promotional materials, or for hiring a recruitment specialist. Or, LEAs could use funds to provide non-financial incentives to educators, like providing on-site daycare or paying for gym memberships. It is a fairly broad category that includes any activity directly related to the recruitment or retention of educators.

  3. May an SEA allow an LEA to use HEAP funds for educators’ base salaries?

    In general, no. The purpose of HEAP is to provide supplemental compensation, through such mechanisms as bonuses, salary premiums, and housing subsidies, to educators who commit to working in an area in which a major disaster area was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. An LEA may not use HEAP funds to pay the base salaries of educators. [Note: Consistent with the requirements of the "Restart" program, the SEA may use "Restart" funds to support the base salaries of educators.]

    However, funds may be use to pay the base salary of individuals whose primary role is to: “build the capacity, knowledge, and skill of teachers and school-based school principals, assistant principals, principal resident directors, assistant directors, and other educators in such public elementary and secondary schools to provide an effective education” (see FAQ #4 under Background). Therefore, the base salaries of some individuals (e.g., professional development staff or master teachers who have been excused from their regular teaching duties) may be allowed under HEAP. However, paying base salaries of regular classroom educators or administrators is not allowable.

  4. Which educators are to receive priority under HEAP?

    In determining which educators to support with HEAP assistance, participating LEAs must give priority to teachers and school-based principals, assistant principals, principal resident directors, assistant directors, and other educators who:

    • previously worked in or lived in one of the affected areas;
    • are currently employed (or become employed) in such a school in any of the affected areas after those disasters; and
    • commit to continue that employment for 3 years

    The intent of this priority is to give preference to those educators who previously had a tie to the areas affected by the hurricanes.

  5. Does this mean that educators who did not live or work in one of the affected areas may not receive supplemental compensation under HEAP?

    No. Although priority must be given to educators with previous ties to the disaster areas, after implementing that priority LEAs may use remaining HEAP funds to compensate educators from outside the disaster areas who commit to work for at least 3 years in an area in which a major disaster area was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita.

  6. The HEAP statute refers to "other educators" who may receive assistance and be given a priority under the program. Who may be considered "other educators"?

    "Other educators" include school-based individuals who provide academic support to students. This includes individuals such as librarians, media specialists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals who provide academic support, and tutors.

  7. The statute requires that individuals who receive assistance under HEAP commit to at least 3 years of employment. When does this 3-year commitment begin?

    For educators who are new to the school, the commitment period begins on the first day of employment. For existing educators who commit to an additional three years of employment in a school, the commitment period begins the next working day after the commitment is made.

  8. May an educator receive credit for time already spent in a school in an area in which a major disaster was declared?

    No. Educators who are currently teaching in qualifying schools may not receive credit for time already spent in the school; however, they may recommit to continue employment for an additional 3 years and be eligible for supplemental compensation.

  9. 7a. Before receiving supplemental compensation under HEAP, must an educator commit to continuing his or her employment for 3 years?

    Yes. The fundamental goal of HEAP is to rebuild and retain the educator base in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The statute allows funds to be used for recruitment, retention, and compensation of educators who have committed to continued employment for at least 3 more years in an area in which a major disaster was declared as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. Educators must make the 3-year commitment before receiving supplemental compensation.


    7b. Must everyone who receives compensation under HEAP make a 3-year commitment?


    No. Individuals who receive a direct financial benefit through salary premiums, performance bonuses, housing subsidies, signing bonuses, relocation costs, loan forgiveness, etc., must make a 3-year commitment. However, individuals are not required to make a 3-year commitment if they receive compensation indirectly as part of LEA efforts to: 1) build the capacity, knowledge, and skill of teachers and school-based educators to provide an effective education; 2) establish partnerships with nonprofit entities with a demonstrated track record in requiring and retaining educators; and 3) pay release time for teachers and principals to replicate successful practices from the fastest-improving and highest-performing schools.


  10. What happens if an educator receives supplemental compensation but does not fulfill his or her 3-year commitment?

    The statute requires educators who receive compensation to have committed to continue employment in the affected area for at least three years. The SEA must develop a written policy on how this commitment will be attained and fulfilled and the consequences if the commitment is broken.

    SEAs and LEAs are encouraged to structure the supplemental compensation in such a way as to support the 3-year commitment. For example, if an LEA proposes to give salary premiums, the amount of the premium could increase each year. Also, if the LEA proposes to provide loan forgiveness, it could propose to pay off the loans at the end of the 3-year commitment period.

  11. By statute, if an SEA chooses to award performance bonuses with HEAP funds, it must develop a rating system on which to base such bonuses within 60 days of the enactment of the Hurricane Education Recovery Supplement. When does this 60-day period end?

    The Hurricane Education Recovery Supplement was enacted on May 25, 2007. Therefore, the 60-day period ends on July 24, 2007.

  12. What if an LEA has a performance-based system, but the SEA does not – does the SEA need to follow the procedures outlined in the statute?

    No. The procedures outlined in the statute pertain to situations where the SEA elects to use HEAP funding for a statewide performance-based bonus system. If an individual LEA has a performance-based system, the LEA may use this system in awarding bonuses; the SEA need not establish and implement a rating system as described in the statute.

  13. May an LEA use services or assistance under HEAP in coordination with other available Federal, State, or local funds?

    Yes. LEAs are encouraged to coordinate the services and assistance that they receive under HEAP with other available services and assistance, especially those received under the "Restart" program.

  14. Is there a supplanting prohibition that applies to services or assistance available under HEAP?

    No. There is no supplanting prohibition under HEAP.


 
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Last Modified: 06/17/2009