ED opens comments for equitable per-pupil funding

The program provides flexibility to consolidate federal, state, and local funding to create a single school funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations for low-income and other disadvantaged students.
By: | May 21, 2021
(AdobeStock)

The Education Department announced in the May 21 edition of the Federal Register that it is accepting comments on the application for the Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Funding program authorized under ESEA Section 1501.

The program provides “local educational agencies with flexibility to consolidate eligible federal funds and state and local education funding in order to create a single school funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students.”

Under the initiative, the Education secretary can enter into agreements with LEAs that submit an application with a list of assurances as well as information about how it will consolidate and use federal, state, and local funding to support weighted per-pupil allocations to meet the needs of low-income and other disadvantaged students.

According to ESEA Section 1501(d)(2), an LEA’s student-centered funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations must:

  • Allocate state and local education funds and eligible federal funds to schools based on the number of students in a school and a formula using per-pupil weighted amounts.
  • Allocate a significant percentage of all the LEA’s state and local education funds and eligible federal funds to schools as agreed upon during the application period.
  • Use weights or allocation amounts that allocate substantially more funding to English learners, students from low-income families, and students with any other characteristics associated with educational disadvantage chosen by the LEA than to other students.
  • Ensure that each high-poverty school, in the first year of the local flexibility demonstration agreement, receives more per-pupil funding for low-income students than the previous year.
  • Ensure that each high-poverty school, in the first year of the local flexibility demonstration agreement, receives at least as much per-pupil funding for English learners as the previous year.
  • Include all school-level personnel expenditures for instructional staff (including staff salary differentials for years of employment) and actual non-personnel expenditures in the calculation of the funds allocated under the system to schools.

The program allows LEAs to consolidate the following federal ESEA funding streams:

  • Title I, Part A: Improving basic programs operated by LEAs.
  • Title I, Part C: Education of migratory children.
  • Title I, Part D, Subpart 2: Local prevention and intervention programs for children and youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at risk.
  • Title II: Preparing, training, and recruiting high-quality teachers, principals, or other school leaders.
  • Title III: Language instruction for English learners and immigrant students.
  • Title IV, Part A: Student support and academic enrichment grants
  • Title V, Part B: Rural education initiative

ED officials anticipate 10 LEAs will apply for this flexibility. ED also removed the application deadline for the program; officials said applications will now be accepted at any time.

To comment on the application by June 21, go to regulations.gov and search for docket number ED-2021-SCC-0040.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

More from DA