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Review of Preliminary Eligibility Data for REAP

Letter Head: Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

May 1, 2009

Dear County and District Superintendents and Direct-Funded Charter School Administrators:

REVIEW OF PRELIMINARY ELIGIBILITY DATA FOR THE
RURAL EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENT PROGRAM

This letter is to notify local educational agencies (LEAs) of the timeline for the 2009–10 Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP). This program is designed to assist rural LEAs in using federal resources more effectively to improve the quality of instruction and student academic achievement (No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act of 2001, Title VI, Part B). REAP consists of two separate programs: (1) the Small, Rural Schools Achievement (SRSA) program and (2) the Rural and Low-Income Schools (RLIS) program. This letter includes information regarding the criteria and timeline for determining eligibility for 2009–10 SRSA and RLIS, as well as the appropriate use of associated funds.

The SRSA program provides eligible LEAs with greater flexibility in using certain federal formula grant funds (REAP-Flex). It also may provide additional funds to support a wide range of activities that promote student achievement. Participation in SRSA (both REAP-Flex and the SRSA grants) is limited to those LEAs that meet the following criteria:

  1. The LEA must have a total average daily attendance (ADA) of less than 600 students or serve only schools that are located in counties that have a population density of fewer than ten persons per square mile; and

  2. The LEA must serve only schools that have a school locale code of 7 or 8 (assigned by the U.S. Department of Education [ED] National Center for Education Statistics [NCES]) or be located in an area of the state defined as rural by a governmental agency of the state.

The RLIS program is an initiative that provides additional funds to rural LEAs that serve concentrations of children from families with incomes below the poverty level. An LEA is eligible for RLIS if:

  1. All schools served by the LEA have a school locale code of 6, 7, or 8 (assigned by the NCES); and

  2. Twenty percent or more of the children ages five to seventeen served by the LEA are from families with incomes below the poverty line (as determined by the Census); and

  3. The LEA is not eligible to participate in the SRSA program.

Preliminary Eligibility Data Review

A Preliminary Eligibility Spreadsheet for 2009–10 REAP grants is currently posted on the California Department of Education (CDE) Federal Rural Education Achievement Program Web page. LEAs have until May 8, 2009, to verify their ADA data (which is based on 2007–08 second principal apportionment), locale codes, and the entitlements received in 2008–09 for Title II, Part A (Improving Teacher Quality); Title II, Part D (Education Technology); Title IV, Part A (Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities); and Title V (Innovative Programs). The data for ADA and entitlements should include any locally-funded charter schools authorized by the LEA. Direct-funded or independent charter schools are treated as their own separate LEA, and their data should not be included with their authorizing agency.

All of this information is part of the following funding formula for SRSA:

  1. First 50 students in ADA = $20,000
  2. Add $100 for each student in ADA above 50 (total amount not to exceed $60,000)
  3. Subtract total allocations from preceding fiscal year for Title II, Part A; Title II, Part D; Title IV, Part A; and Title V

If your records indicate that any information in the Preliminary Eligibility Spreadsheet is incorrect, please contact Bob Storelli, Education Programs Consultant, Regional Coordination and Support Office, at 916-319-0482 or by e-mail at rstorelli@cde.ca.gov as soon as possible. Data corrections that are made before May 30, 2009, will ensure eligibility for next year’s grants.

LEAs that believe they may be eligible for SRSA and have never before applied can begin applying before Final Eligibility Spreadsheets are posted. Because this grant is administered directly by the federal government, LEAs need to apply through the ED e-Grants system on the ED e-Grants Web site [Note, the preceding Web address is no longer valid and has been replaced by the G5 System at https://www.g5.gov/ext/wps/portal] no later than June 30, 2009. Applications received after that date will be subject to availability of funds.

Annual Certification of Rural California School District Form

As stated above, locale codes assigned to your LEA are part of the eligibility criteria. Even though there is no appeal of locale code assignment through the NCES, if the information indicates not all schools in your LEA have a locale code of 7 or 8, your LEA may still be eligible for SRSA if it meets California’s definition of “rural” as follows:

A rural local educational agency is one that is located within an incorporated or unincorporated place that has a district resident population of less than 2,500, or has a population center less than 1,000 persons, and is characterized by sparse, widespread population.

You can access total LEA resident population data on the U.S. Census Bureau Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Web page External link opens in new window or tab. . If you can certify that your LEA meets this definition, sign and submit the enclosed Annual Certification of Rural California School District form to:

Bob Storelli, Education Programs Consultant
Regional Coordination and Support Office
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 6208
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

There is no specific deadline for submittal at this time, but corrections made by May 30, 2009, will ensure eligibility for the 2009–10 school year. Note: If your LEA was designated rural last year by virtue of the Annual Certification of Rural California School District form, this year’s preliminary spreadsheet will initially indicate that designation. A new Annual Certification of Rural California School District form must be received by May 30, 2009, or the rural designation will be removed and your LEA will not be eligible for this program for the 2009–10 school year.

A potential problem that has surfaced involves direct-funded charter schools. Even though the file NCES uses to assign locale codes recognizes charter schools, NCES has no way to determine if charter schools are direct-or locally-funded. Many LEAs have had their eligibility affected by direct-funded charters they have authorized but that are not physically located in an eligible locale code. If your LEA’s eligibility is being affected in this manner, you may restore your eligibility by certifying the following:

The only schools within the LEA that do not have a locale code of 7 or 8 are direct-funded independent charter schools.

Because the data used in the certification of “rural” are subject to change on an annual basis, the Annual Certification of Rural California School District form must be filed each and every year that it is applicable to the LEA. However, please do not file the form if the locale codes for your LEA indicate only 7 and/or 8 on the Preliminary Eligibility Spreadsheet.

Continued Participation in the SRSA Program

Each state is required to review the annual assessment data for each LEA participating in the REAP-Flex, SRSA, or RLIS grant programs. For an LEA that has participated in REAP for three years and based on 2008 assessment data has failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), all of the LEA’s REAP funds and any exercise of REAP-Flex authority must be used to address the specific weaknesses that resulted in the LEA’s failure to make AYP. For an LEA in Program Improvement that failed to make AYP as described above, all REAP funds and applicable funding under REAP-Flex must be spent on activities that support the district’s LEA Plan Addendum.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Bob Storelli, Education Programs Consultant, Regional Coordination and Support Office, at 916-319-0482 or by e-mail at rstorelli@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

JACK O’CONNELL
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Enclosure

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