What is authorizing statute for the Improving Literacy through School Libraries Program?
Title I, Part B, Subpart 4 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended. It is one part of the reading skills improvement grants (Title I, Part B) which includes Reading First, Early Reading First, and the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Program.
What is an LEA?
A local educational agency (LEA) is defined in Section 9101 of the ESEA. Generally, an LEA is a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for administrative control or direction of public schools or any public institution or agency having administrative control and direction of a public school.
What is the purpose of this program?
The purpose of this program is to improve student literacy skills and academic achievement by providing increased access to up-to-date library materials, a well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media center, and well-trained, professionally certified school library media specialists.
The Improving Literacy through School Libraries (LSL) program promotes comprehensive local strategies to improve student reading achievement by improving school library services and resources. The LSL program is one component of the Department's commitment to improve student achievement by focusing available resources, including those of school library media centers. School library media centers have an important role to contribute to the success of local reading improvement efforts by increasing collaboration between instructional and school library media center staff, providing additional instructional materials and resources, and extending hours of operation during non-school hours.
What is the difference between "equipment" and "supplies?"
Section 80.3 (34 CFR 80.3) defines equipment as having a current per unit fair market value of $5,000 or more. However, certain States and localities have a more restrictive definition of equipment in terms of monetary value. In these cases, applicants must follow the more restrictive definition, and note this more restrictive definition in the budget narrative. The applicant must also use this definition to distinguish "equipment" line items from "supplies" line items when completing form 524. Supplies, subsequently, are defined as items with costs that fall below the equipment threshold.
Can indirect costs be applied to equipment?
Indirect costs may not be applied to equipment. Additionally, indirect costs may not be applied to the amount of any contract in excess of $25,000.00 (although contracts exceeding $25,000.00 are uncommon in LSL applications).
What are allowable costs?
Several considerations affect whether costs are allowable. Costs must also be allowable according to the Federal cost principles in OMB Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments). Examples of unallowable costs in the LSL program generally include: renovation or construction, carpeting, furniture (except for shelving for new books or tables for computers and printers), collection automation software, food, snacks, incentives, extraneous items such as bean bag chairs, and other items not tied directly to the instructional purposes described in the statute governing the program. The supplement-not-supplant provision of the LSL statute requires grant funds to be used in addition to, rather than in place of, other Federal, State, or local funds available for purposes authorized under the LSL program.
Must an applicant use an outside evaluator?
No. The Department does not require the use of an outside evaluator in completing the annual performance report. Because the Improving Literacy through School Libraries (LSL) program is subject to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the evaluation design should reflect how the applicant is meeting the established GPRA performance measures. This process is designed to improve program management, and to help Congress, the Department, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and others review a program’s progress toward its goals. Under GPRA, the Secretary has established the following three (3) measures for evaluating the overall effectiveness of the LSL program:
- The percentage of students in schools served by the LSL program who are proficient in reading;
- The number of books and media resources purchased per student, pre- and post-grant, compared to the national average; and
- The difference in the number of purchases of school library materials (books and media resources) between schools participating in the LSL program and the national average.
All grantees must provide information on these performance measures in the required final performance report. Applicants may obtain a copy of the OMB approved reporting format in MS Word on the LSL performance page
What are the eligibility requirements for the LSL program?
There are two eligibility requirements for the LSL program:
The applicant must be a local educational agency (LEA), as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Generally, State educational agencies (SEA) designate LEAs for purposes of Federal education programs.
- School districts are the most familiar form of LEAs.
- Some charter schools in some states are also considered LEAs. Charter Schools should check with their chartering agency to see if they are considered an LEA. Charter Schools applying for this grant must include information on their LEA designation in the abstract of their application.
- States may consider all or some charter schools LEAs. Charter Schools should always check with their state to see if they are considered LEAs. Charter schools should include signed documentation from a State authorized Charter School representative regarding their LEA status as part of the application.
- Regional Service Agencies in many states are considered LEAs by the SEA. These entities may apply as part of a consortium with eligible LEAs in their service areas. They may also apply directly for the schools they administer if they meet the family poverty eligibility requirement discussed below.
- State Administered Schools, such as Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, State Arts Schools, etc., may also be eligible to apply if they are considered LEAs by the SEA.
- The second eligibility criterion is that the LEA must have at least 20% of its students from families below the poverty line. Note: this is not the free and reduced priced lunch statistic. The family poverty rate is the base poverty rate. It is based on Census Bureau data.
- School district family poverty rates are posted on the web at http://www.ed.gov/programs/lsl/eligibility.html prior to each competition. If a school district's family poverty rate is 20% or above it is eligible to apply.
- Charter Schools that are considered LEAs will have their family poverty rate computed by the SEA, Federal Program, or Title I office. You must contact that office in your State to have them compute the family poverty rate for your organization. Note: a charter school must meet the eligibility requirement of at least 20 percent of the students served from families with incomes below the poverty line.
- Regional Service Units that are LEAs applying for schools they administer must have the family poverty rate computed for those schools. They need to contact the SEA, Federal Program, or Title I office. If the computed family poverty rate is 20% or above, the regional service unit is eligible to apply.
- A State Administered School that is an LEA must have the family poverty rate computed for that school. The school needs to contact the SEA, Federal Program, or Title I office. If the computed family poverty rate is 20% or above, the school is eligible to apply.
How are poverty rates computed?
The Census Bureau computes these rates based on the most up-to-date data available including Census 2000, the Current Population Survey, and other administrative sources, such as Food Stamp data. If you would like more information on the Census Bureau's methodology, please see:
Can an individual school apply for a grant?
No. Individual schools are not eligible to apply for a grant.
Can a group of LEAs apply as a group for this grant?
Yes. A group of eligible LEAs may apply for a grant under this program. A description of Group Applications is found in EDGAR at 75.127-129. EDGAR is available online at:
However, each LEA must be eligible.
Are private schools eligible to apply for this grant?
No, private schools are not eligible to apply for this grant nor are they eligible to receive services through an eligible LEA for this program.
What is the definition of "persistently lowest-achieving schools?"
Persistently lowest-achieving schools means, as determined by the State and described in the State application for the School Improvement Program (SIG): (i) Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that (a) is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; and (ii) any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that: (a) is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
The approved State application for SIG includes a list of schools with different classifications. Which schools on the list, if included in the local educational agency's (LEA's) Improving Literacy through School Libraries (LSL) application, would make the applicant LEA eligible for the additional five (5) competitive preference priority points?
All schools in Tier I and Tier II would qualify to make the LEA eligible for the additional five (5) competitive preference priority points, if any of them is included in the LEA's application.
Who will award the competitive preference priority points?
The LSL program staff will award the competitive preference priority points.
Will an applicant receive more competitive preference priority points if it includes more than one "persistently lowest-achieving school" in its application?
No. Applicants will be awarded five (5) points regardless of whether they propose to serve 1, 2, or 3 "persistently lowest-achieving schools." As long as one "persistently lowest-achieving" school is included, the full five (5) points will be awarded.
NOTE: In order to receive the five (5) points, it is very important that applicants clearly list the school(s) that will be served by the project in the project abstract.
What should an applicant consider if it wants to include a "persistently lowest-achieving school" in its application?
Some schools identified as "persistently lowest-achieving" will receive SIG funding and will be required to adopt one of four school intervention models (turnaround, restart, school closure, or transformation). If an applicant proposes to serve a school that it anticipates will receive SIG funds, it should ensure that the proposed LSL project services are consistent with the school intervention model selected. So, for example, if an applicant wishes to include a school it anticipates will receive SIG funding, it should consider the fact that the school will be required to undergo major changes that may impact staffing, administration, and possible closure. Additionally, the school will receive a large amount of funding under SIG – up to $2 million per year for three years.
The applicant should carefully consider these factors in its proposal. It should not propose services that cannot be implemented because they are inconsistent with the SIG reform models. For more information on the reform models and SIG requirements, see the SIG Web site at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html