Funding Flexibilities in Response to the COVID-19Frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning Title II, Part A – Supporting Effective Instruction funding flexibilities in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The United States Department of Education (USDOE) has been working with state departments of education to provide program and funding flexibility guidance to support local educational agencies (LEAs) as they respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is specific to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title II, Part A – Supporting Effective Instruction program. The resources will be updated frequently.
California Federal Funding Flexibility Webinar for LEAs
On April 23, 2020, the California Department of Education (CDE) hosted a webinar for LEAs regarding the federal funding flexibility waiver.
California Federal Funding Flexibility FAQs
The following questions about ESEA Title II, Part A funds were asked during that webinar.
- May portions of staff compensation charged to Title II, Part A of the ESEA funding sources continue to be paid during the period that the employee is unable to work due to the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes. The LEA may charge the compensation (including fringe benefits) of its employees who are paid by Title II, Part A funds to that grant, even if the employees may not perform their usual duties. The LEA should follow their policies and procedures for paying compensation under extraordinary circumstances, such as a public health emergency like COVID-19 (if an LEA does not have such a policy in place, it should craft one to ensure clarity and consistency). Consider ways that employees paid with Title II, Part A funds can support continuing activities, including training for educators and school leaders to implement distance learning opportunities. LEAs must maintain detailed records to substantiate the charging of any compensation costs related to the interruption of operations or services.
(2 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Section 200.302 [financial management], 2 CFR Section 200.430[i] [standards for documenting personnel expenses], 2 CFR Section 200.333 [retention requirements for records])
For more information, visit the USDOE Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Can professional learning activities provided through the Title II, Part A funds be adapted to support staff whose primary job responsibility is not directly related to the classroom or school building leadership? For example, some classified staff and school counselors are providing services to students and families to support distance learning activities.
The activities should support the intents and purposes of Title II, Part A. The professional learning activities must:
- Address the learning needs of all students including students with disabilities, English learners, and gifted and talented students;
- Be supplemental to core LEA professional learning opportunities;
- Not be in response to other federal, state, or local requirements;
- Be intended to increase student achievement consistent with challenging academic standards; improve the number, quality, and effectiveness of teachers and school leaders concerning student academic achievement; and provide low-income and minority students greater access to effective educators; and
- Generally, be developed for teachers or school leaders. The ESEA definition of a school leader is a principal, assistant principal, or other individual who is an employee or officer of an elementary or secondary school, LEA, or other entity operating school and is responsible for the daily instructional leadership and managerial operations.
- What are allowable expenditures which can be allocated to Title II, Part A funds so that an LEA is able to provide timely professional learning to teachers and school leaders in response to the COVID-19 emergency? For example, can teachers be supplied with technology such as laptops or other equipment? Can district staff be paid to lead the activities?
The COVID-19 emergency has created a need for LEAs to provide resources and professional learning opportunities for educators to shift their classrooms to online instruction. Title II, Part A funds may be used to train teachers and school leaders to:
- Effectively integrate technology into curricula and instruction;
- Understand how to ensure student privacy is protected;
- Effectively engage parents, families, and community partners; and
- Help all students develop skills for learning readiness and academic success.
(20 USC Section 6613[b][E])(20 USC Section 6613[b][E])
To provide training during the shelter-in-place orders, many LEAs acquired and issued technology resources for teachers and school leaders so that training in distance learning skills could be delivered via online meetings and activities. LEAs should carefully document the use of funds for this purpose to show that the expenditures are necessary and reasonable to provide timely professional training in response to the COVID-19 emergency (2 CFR sections 200.403, 200.404, 200.405) for the 2019-2020 school year only. When planning the purchase of supplies and technology to support this training effort, clearly document each expenditure and how it supports that effort available only for the 2019-2020 school year. Provide sufficient documentation so that each expenditure is associated with a specific staff member and training activity (2 CFR sections 200.439, 200.445, 200.453) for the 2019-2020 school year. If the educator uses the technology for direct classroom instruction in addition to professional learning, the use should be documented by each educator for each piece of equipment. The intent of Title II, Part A funds is to support professional learning rather than classroom instruction.
If LEA staff have expertise that can be leveraged to provide timely training which is specific to the LEA’s implementation of a distance learning program and they provide the training in a capacity that is in addition to their normal duties, a reasonable stipend may be allowable. The LEA should document any stipend (2 CFR Section 200.430[b][i]).
- Can Title II, Part A funds be used to establish general technology infrastructure for the LEA or for distance learning technology for students?
No. General technological infrastructure should be provided by General Funds. Title II, Part A funds can be transferred to other federal programs to provide distance learning technology for students. For example, Title II, Part A funds can be transferred to Title IV, Part A, which supports a broad range of activities to implement distance learning (20 USC Section 7119). For more information, visit the CDE Federal Transferability web page.
- If Title II, Part A funds are transferred into Title IV, Part A, will there be limits on the amount of funds that can be spent on technological infrastructure?
No. The CDE was granted approval of a request to waive Title IV, Part A spending limitation for technology infrastructure (20 USC Section 7119(b)) for fiscal years (FYs) 2018 and 2019. This means that the 15 percent spending limitation for purchasing technology infrastructure with these funds is waived. The LEA needs assessments for the 2019–20 school year and content-area spending requirements for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds also have preliminary waiver approval. Please contact the CDE Title IV Office with additional questions by email at TitleIV@cde.ca.gov.
- What is the relevance of Section 8101(42) of the ESEA?
Section 8101(42) defines professional development for all the ESEA programs. In general, Section 8101(42) states that these activities should provide educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to enable students to succeed in a well-rounded education and to meet the challenging academic standards. Under normal circumstances, the activities should be sustained (not stand-alone, one-day, or short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused. They should also be aligned to the LEA goals as described in its planning documents.
Through USDOE’s 2019-2020 school year waiver of this definition for the CDE, LEAs are provided with flexibility to use funds in specific programs which address professional learning, especially to be able to train educators concerning effective distance learning techniques and to conduct time-sensitive, one-time, or stand-alone professional development. This also waives any definition of professional development for equitable services.
Further information can be found on these CDE web pages: