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Notice

Special Education: State Program Improvement Grants Program Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2002

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program, authorized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997, is to assist State educational agencies and their partners referred to in section 652(b) of IDEA with reforming and improving their systems for providing educational, early intervention, and transitional services, including their systems for professional development, technical assistance, and dissemination of knowledge about best practices, to improve results for children with disabilities.

Eligible Applicants: A State educational agency of one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or an outlying area (United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) that is not a current grantee.

Applications Available: May 27, 2003.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 11, 2003.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 12, 2003.

Estimated Available Funds: $11 million.

Estimated Range of Awards: Awards will be not less than $530,000, nor more than $2,199,000 in the case of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and not less than $84,800, in the case of an outlying area. Pursuant to subsection 655(b) the Secretary has increased the maximum award amount above the maximum award amount for the FY 2002 competition to account for inflation.

Note:

Consistent with EDGAR 34 CFR 75.104(b), we will reject any application that proposes a project funding level for any year that exceeds the stated maximum award amount for that year.

We will set the amount of each grant after considering:

(1) The amount of funds available for making the grants;

(2) The relative population of the State or outlying area; and

(3) The types of activities proposed by the State or outlying area.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $1,000,000.

Estimated Number of Awards: 10.

Note:

The Department of Education is not bound by the estimated size and number of awards in this notice.

Project Period: Not less than one year and not more than five years.

Page Limits: Part III of each application submitted under a priority in this notice, the application narrative, is where an applicant addresses the selection criteria that are used by reviewers in evaluating the application. You must limit part III to the equivalent of no more than 100 pages, using the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 11″ (on one side only) with one-inch margins (top, bottom, and sides).
  • Double-space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative, including titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
  • If using a proportional computer font, use no smaller than a 12-point font, and an average character density no greater than 18 characters per inch. If using a nonproportional font or a typewriter, do not use more than 12 characters per inch.

The page limit does not apply to part I—the cover sheet; part II—the budget Start Printed Page 28819section, including the narrative budget justification; part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the resumes, the bibliography or references, or the letters of support. However, you must include all of the application narrative in part III.

We will reject without consideration or evaluation any application if—

  • You apply these standards and exceed the page limit; or
  • You apply other standards and exceed the equivalent of the page limit.

Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99; and (b) the selection criteria for this program are drawn from EDGAR in 34 CFR 75.210.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education only.

Description of Program

The statutory authorization, purpose of this program and the application requirements that apply to this competition are set out in sections 651-655 of the IDEA.

General Requirements

(a) Projects funded under this notice must make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities in project activities (see section 606 of IDEA);

(b) Applicants and grant recipients funded under this notice must involve individuals with disabilities or parents of individuals with disabilities in planning, implementing, and evaluating the projects (see section 661(f)(1)(A) of IDEA); and

(c) Projects funded under these priorities must budget for a two-day Project Directors' meeting in Washington, DC during each year of the project.

Absolute Priority: Under section 653 and 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we will give an absolute preference to applications that meet the following priority. We will fund under this competition only those applications that meet this absolute priority.

This priority supports projects that assist State educational agencies and their partners in reforming and improving their systems for providing educational, early intervention, and transitional services, including their systems for professional development, technical assistance, and dissemination of knowledge about best practices, to improve results for children with disabilities.

State Improvement Plan. Applicants must submit a State improvement plan that—

(a) Is integrated, to the maximum extent possible, with State plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, if appropriate;

(b) Identifies those critical aspects of early intervention, general education, and special education programs (including professional development, based on an assessment of State and local needs) that must be improved to enable children with disabilities to meet the goals established by the State under section 612(a)(16) of IDEA. Specifically, applicants must include:

(1) An analysis of all information, reasonably available to the State educational agency, on the performance of children with disabilities in the State, including—

(i) Their performance on State assessments and other performance indicators established for all children, including drop-out rates and graduation rates;

(ii) Their participation in postsecondary education and employment; and

(iii) How their performance on the assessments and indicators compares to that of non-disabled children;

(2) An analysis of State and local needs for professional development for personnel to serve children with disabilities that includes, at a minimum:

(i) The number of personnel providing special education and related services; and

(ii) Relevant information on current and anticipated personnel vacancies and shortages (including the number of individuals described in paragraph (b)(2)(i) with temporary certification), and on the extent of certification or retraining necessary to eliminate those shortages, that is based, to the maximum extent possible, on existing assessments of personnel needs;

(3) An analysis of the major findings of the Secretary's most recent reviews of State compliance, as they relate to improving results for children with disabilities; and

(4) An analysis of other information, reasonably available to the State, on the effectiveness of the State's systems of early intervention, special education, and general education in meeting the needs of children with disabilities;

(c) Describes a partnership agreement that—

(1) Specifies—

(i) The nature and extent of the partnership among the State educational agency, local educational agencies, and other State agencies involved in, or concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, and the respective roles of each member of the partnership; and

(ii) How those agencies will work in partnership with other persons and organizations involved in, and concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, including the respective roles of each of these persons and organizations; and

(2) Is in effect for the period of the grant;

(d) Describes how grant funds will be used in undertaking the systemic-change activities, and the amount and nature of funds from any other sources, including funds under part B of the Act retained for use at the State level under sections 611(f) and 619(d) of the Act, that will be committed to the systemic-change activities;

(e) Describes the strategies the State will use to address the needs identified under paragraph (b), including how it will—

(1) Change State policies and procedures to address systemic barriers to improving results for children with disabilities;

(2) Hold local educational agencies and schools accountable for educational progress of children with disabilities;

(3) Provide technical assistance to local educational agencies and schools to improve results for children with disabilities;

(4) Address the identified needs for in-service and pre-service preparation to ensure that all personnel who work with children with disabilities (including both professional and paraprofessional personnel who provide special education, general education, related services, or early intervention services) have the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of children with disabilities, including a description of how it will—

(i) Prepare general and special education personnel with the content knowledge and collaborative skills needed to meet the needs of children with disabilities, including how the State will work with other States on common certification criteria;

(ii) Prepare professionals and paraprofessionals in the area of early intervention with the content knowledge and collaborative skills needed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities;

(iii) Work with institutions of higher education and other entities that (on both a pre-service and an in-service basis) prepare personnel who work with children with disabilities to ensure that those institutions and entities develop Start Printed Page 28820the capacity to support quality professional development programs that meet State and local needs;

(iv) Work to develop collaborative agreements with other States for the joint support and development of programs to prepare personnel for which there is not sufficient demand within a single State to justify support or development of a program of preparation;

(v) Work in collaboration with other States, particularly neighboring States, to address the lack of uniformity and reciprocity in the credentialing of teachers and other personnel;

(vi) Enhance the ability of teachers and others to use strategies, like behavioral interventions, to address the conduct of children with disabilities that impedes the learning of children with disabilities and others;

(vii) Acquire and disseminate, to teachers, administrators, school board members, and related services personnel, significant knowledge derived from educational research and other sources, and how the State, if appropriate, will adopt promising practices, materials, and technology;

(viii) Recruit, prepare, and retain qualified personnel, including personnel with disabilities and personnel from groups that are underrepresented in the fields of regular education, special education, and related services;

(ix) Integrate its plan, to the maximum extent possible, with other professional development plans and activities, including plans and activities developed and carried out under other Federal and State laws that address personnel recruitment and training; and

(x) Provide for the joint training of parents and special education, related services, and general education personnel;

(5) Address systemic problems identified in Federal compliance reviews, including shortages of qualified personnel;

(6) Disseminate results of the local capacity-building and improvement projects funded under section 611(f)(4) of the Act;

(7) Address improving results for children with disabilities in the geographic areas of greatest need;

(8) Assess, on a regular basis, the extent to which the strategies implemented under this subpart have been effective; and

(9) Coordinate its improvement strategies with public and private sector resources.

Required partners. Applicants must:

(a) Establish a partnership with local educational agencies and other State agencies involved in, or concerned with, the education of children with disabilities; and

(b) Work in partnership with other persons and organizations involved in, and concerned with, the education of children with disabilities, including—

(1) The Governor;

(2) Parents of children with disabilities;

(3) Parents of nondisabled children;

(4) Individuals with disabilities;

(5) Organizations representing individuals with disabilities and their parents, such as the parent training and information centers;

(6) Community-based and other nonprofit organizations involved in the education and employment of individuals with disabilities;

(7) The lead State agency for part C of the Act;

(8) General and special education teachers, and early intervention personnel;

(9) The State advisory panel established under part B of the Act;

(10) The State interagency coordinating council established under part C of the Act; and

(11) Institutions of higher education within the State.

Optional partners. A partnership established by applicants may also include—

(a) Individuals knowledgeable about vocational education;

(b) The State agency for higher education;

(c) The State vocational rehabilitation agency;

(d) Public agencies with jurisdiction in the areas of health, mental health, social services, and juvenile justice; and

(e) Other individuals.

Reporting procedures. Each State educational agency that receives a grant must submit performance reports to the Secretary pursuant to a schedule to be determined by the Secretary, but not more frequently than annually. The reports must describe the progress of the State in meeting the performance goals established under section 612(a)(16) of the Act, analyze the effectiveness of the State's strategies in meeting those goals, and identify any changes in the strategies needed to improve its performance. Grantees must also provide information required under EDGAR at 34 CFR 80.40.

Use of funds. Each State educational agency that receives a State Improvement Grant under this program—

(a) May use grant funds to carry out any activities that are described in the State's application and that are consistent with the purpose of this program;

(b) Shall, consistent with its partnership agreement established under the grant, award contracts or subgrants to local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and parent training and information centers, as appropriate, to carry out its State improvement plan; and

(c) May award contracts and subgrants to other public and private entities, including the lead agency under part C of the Act, to carry out that plan;

(d)(1) Shall use not less than 75 percent of the funds it receives under the grant for any fiscal year—

(i) To ensure that there are sufficient regular education, special education, and related services personnel who have the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of children with disabilities and developmental goals of young children; or

(ii) To work with other States on common certification criteria; or

(2) Shall use not less than 50 percent of those funds for these purposes, if the State demonstrates to the Secretary's satisfaction that it has the personnel described in paragraph (d)(1).

Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking: It is generally our practice to offer interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed priorities. However, section 661(e)(2) of IDEA makes the public comment requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) inapplicable to the priority in this notice.

For Applications Contact: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, Maryland 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-4ED-Pubs (1-877-433-7827). FAX: 301-470-1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) you may call (toll free): 1-877-576-7734.

You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/​pubs/​edpubs.html, or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov.

If you request an application from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA 84.323A.

Application Procedures

Note:

Some of the procedures in these instructions for transmitting applications differ from those in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) (34 CFR 75.102). Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these amendments make procedural changes only and do not establish new substantive policy. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A), the Secretary has determined that proposed rulemaking is not required.

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Pilot Project for Electronic Submission of Applications

In FY 2003, the U.S. Department of Education is continuing to expand its pilot project of electronic submission of applications to include additional formula grant programs and additional discretionary grant competitions. The Special Education—State Program Improvement Grants Program—CFDA No. 84.323A is one of the programs included in the pilot project. If you are an applicant under this program, you may submit your application to us in either electronic or paper format.

The pilot project involves the use of the Electronic Grant Application System (e-Application) portion of the Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS). Users of e-Application will be entering data on-line while completing their applications. You may not e-mail a soft copy of a grant application to us. If you participate in this voluntary pilot project by submitting an application electronically, the data you enter on-line will be saved into a database. We request your participation in e-Application. We shall continue to evaluate its success and solicit suggestions for improvement.

If you participate in e-Application, please note the following:

  • Your participation is voluntary.
  • You will not receive any additional point value because you submit a grant application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you submit an application in paper format. When you enter the e-Application system, you will find information about its hours of operation.
  • You may submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgement, which will include a PR/Award number (an identifying number unique to your application).
  • Within three working days after submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the Application for Federal Assistance (ED 424) to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

(1) Print ED 424 from the e-Application system.

(2) The institution's Authorizing Representative must sign this form.

(3) Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the hard copy signature page of the ED 424.

(4) Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 260-1349.

  • We may request that you give us original signatures on all other forms at a later date.
  • Closing Date Extension in Case of System Unavailability: If you elect to participate in the e-Application pilot for the Special Education—State Program Improvement Grants Program and you are prevented from submitting your application on the closing date because the e-Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day in order to transmit your application electronically, by mail or hand delivery. For us to grant this extension—

(1) You must be a registered user of e-Application, and have initiated an e-Application for this competition; and

(2)(a) The e-Application system must be unavailable for 60 minutes or more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the deadline date; or

(b) The e-Application system must be unavailable for any period of time during the last hour of operation (that is, for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time) on the deadline date.

The Department must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension.

To request this extension you must contact either (1) the person listed elsewhere in this notice under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or (2) the e-GRANTS help desk at 1-888-336-8930.

You may access the electronic grant application for the Special Education—State Program Improvement Grants Program at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

We have included additional information about the e-Application pilot project (see Parity Guidelines between Paper and Electronic Applications) in the application package.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3317, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 205-8207.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the Grants and Contracts Services Team under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. However, the Department is not able to reproduce in an alternative format the standard forms included in the application package.

Intergovernmental Review

This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.

This document provides early notification of our specific plans and actions for this program.

Electronic Access to This Document

You may view this document, as well as all other Department of Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/​legislation/​FedRegister.

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the previous site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

Note:

The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.access.gpo/​nara/​index.html.

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Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1405, 1461, 1472, 1474, and 1487.

End Authority Start Signature

Dated: May 20, 2003.

Loretta Petty Chittum,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. 03-13181 Filed 5-23-03; 8:45 am]

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