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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities-Regional Resource Centers; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.326R.

DATES:

Applications Available: March 11, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 26, 2004.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: June 25, 2004.

Eligible Applicants: State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), other public agencies, nonprofit private organizations, for-profit organizations, outlying areas, freely associated States, and Indian tribes or tribal organizations.

Estimated Available Funds: $7,800,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $1,300,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Estimated Number of Awards: 6.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: This program provides technical assistance and information that (1) support States and local entities in building capacity to improve early intervention, educational, and transitional services and results for children with disabilities and their families; and (2) address goals and priorities for changing State systems that provide early intervention, educational, and transitional services for children with disabilities and their families.

Priority: In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(iv), this priority is from allowable activities specified in the statute (see sections 661(e)(2) and 685 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)).

Absolute Priority: For FY 2004 this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet this priority.

Background: Since 1969, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has supported Regional Resource Centers (RRCs) to provide technical assistance and support to SEAs and more recently to Part C Lead Agencies (LA). Although SEAs and LAs are the RRC's primary customers, RRCs may provide technical assistance to local agencies and LEAs at the request of the SEA or LA. Activities have included staff training, policy analysis, product development, information dissemination, needs assessments, improvement planning, and supporting and facilitating State systems change efforts.

Over the years, the relationship between the RRCs and the States has evolved from RRCs passively responding to State-identified needs, in isolation from OSEP initiatives, to a relationship characterized by the proactive identification of issues and trends in need of technical support and conducted within the context of OSEP and other Department of Education initiatives (e.g., Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process (CIMP), No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)) and policy. This revised relationship has been the product of the development of a more collaborative association with OSEP.

Through their relationship with SEAs and LAs, the RRCs have become a critical component for dissemination of, and support to, OSEP's expanded accountability strategy. This support has transcended the RCCs' traditional capacity as technical assistance providers to a role of brokering technical assistance between SEAs and LAs and OSEP-supported technical assistance and research centers.

Priority: The RRC's activities must include, but are not limited to, the following:

(a) Supporting efforts of sustainable systemic change through working with SEAs and LAs on better outcomes for infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities and their families by providing technical assistance to:

(1) Support and enhance States' performance measurement, data analysis, improvement planning, and system evaluation skills. Start Printed Page 11397

(2) Help SEAs, LAs, and their partners develop performance measurement systems to guide improvement efforts, especially related to annual performance reports. Technical assistance may include helping States to—

(A) Develop critical performance indicators for children with disabilities and the programs that serve them;

(B) Develop their annual performance reports;

(C) Assess State performance;

(D) Portray their current performance status relative to State-developed performance measures;

(E) Develop and implement strategies to improve performance and compliance; and

(F) Evaluate the impact of improvement activities.

(4) Support and enhance States' participation in OSEP's Continuous Improvement and Focused Monitoring System (CIFMS).

(5) Support and enhance States' ability to develop and submit eligibility documents.

(b) Disseminating scientifically-based practices to SEAs and LAs by—

(1) Using information from a variety of sources including, Department of Education and other government and nongovernment agency-funded technical assistance and research centers;

(2) Linking SEAs and LAs to Department of Education and other government and nongovernment agency-funded technical assistance and research centers;

(3) Employing effective technology and multiple strategies of communication for receiving and disseminating current information, including information on research-based practices;

(4) Supporting the Federal Resource Center's (FRC) consolidated RRC network Web site; and

(5) Supporting the FRC's consolidated RRC network information services initiative, including budgeting no more than 1.0 FTE positions to support the effort.

(c) Providing current information and technical assistance to SEAs on NCLB as it relates to IDEA and students with disabilities on—

(1) Highly qualified personnel requirements;

(2) Assessment requirements, including alternate assessment and alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards;

(3) Professional development requirements; and

(4) Reading First and other NCLB programs.

(d) Collaborating with the Regional Parent Technical Assistance Centers (RPTAC) to (1) use available resources, access research-based practices and findings, and participate in educational reform activities; and (2) improve collaboration and coordination between RRCs, RPTACs, Parent Training and Information Centers, and Community Parent Training Centers by helping them to prepare training materials that include scientifically-based research on best practices and information on NCLB, and through such activities as—

(A) Participation in conference calls;

(B) Inviting RPTAC participation in RRC multiregional workgroups (e.g., assessment, transition);

(C) As appropriate, attending RPTAC's national meetings; and

(D) Participating on a joint listserv and/or a Community of Practice Web site.

(e) Providing leadership and technical support to OSEP-coordinated, large-scale technical assistance initiatives, especially the Communities of Practice formed to address OSEP's CIFMS critical indicators (i.e., school completion, access to the general curriculum, settings, early childhood environments, and identification).

(f) Providing OSEP-specified technical assistance to States. This effort may include participation in: (1) Collaborative Web-based technical assistance activities, (2) coordination of and participation in State-to-State communities of practice, and (3) direct technical assistance to OSEP-specified States through partnerships between OSEP and selected States. Staff time and project resources dedicated to provide technical assistance to OSEP-specified States will be negotiated with OSEP as part of the cooperative agreement within 30 days of the project award (OSEP anticipates that technical assistance to OSEP-specified States could averaged approximately $40,000 per year. Budgets should be developed with this in mind).

(g) Providing technical assistance to State Improvement grantees.

(h) Using personnel to provide technical assistance who have special education expertise in (1) reading for nonresponders, (2) core academic subjects, (3) early childhood education, (4) transition, (5) positive behavior supports, (6) alternate assessment, (7) recruitment and retention, (8) systems change (e.g., Communities of Practice), (9) program evaluation, (10) parent and family involvement, and (11) NCLB (e.g., improving achievement of children with disabilities).

(i) Prior to developing any new product, whether paper or electronic, submitting for approval a proposal describing the content and purpose of the product to the document review board of OSEP's Dissemination Center. These products may include analyses and syntheses of policy but not policy development.

In deciding whether to continue this project for the fourth and fifth years, the Secretary will consider the requirements of 34 CFR 75.253(a), and in addition—

(1) The recommendation of a review team consisting of experts selected by the Secretary. The review will be conducted in Washington, DC during the last half of the project's second year. Projects must budget for the travel associated with this one-day intensive review;

(2) The timeliness and effectiveness with which all requirements of the negotiated cooperative agreement have been or are being met by the RRC; and

(3) Evidence of the degree to which the RRC's activities have contributed to changed practices and improved child outcomes.

Geographic Regions

The Secretary establishes the following geographic regions for the RRCs—

Region 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont;

Region 2: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia;

Region 3: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands;

Region 4: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin;

Region 5: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, the Bureau of Indian Affairs;

Region 6: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

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

Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1485. Start Printed Page 11398

Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 97, 98, and 99.

Note:

The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian tribes.

Note:

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

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Cooperative agreements.

Estimated Available Funds: $7,800,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $1,300,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Estimated Number of Awards: 6.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 60 months.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: SEAs, LEAs, IHEs, other public agencies, nonprofit private organizations, for-profit organizations, outlying areas, freely associated States, and Indian tribes or tribal organizations.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This competition does not involve cost sharing or matching.

3. Other: General Requirements—(a) The projects funded under this notice must make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities (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).

(c) The projects funded under this priority must budget for a two-day Project Directors' meeting in Washington, DC during each year of the project.

(d) If a project maintains a Web site, it must include relevant information and documents in an accessible form.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 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: 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 number 84.326R.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts Services Team listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII of this notice.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition.

Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. You must limit Part III to the equivalent of no more than 70 pages, using the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ × 11″ on one side only, with 1″ margins at the top, bottom, and both 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.
  • Use a font that is either 12-point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch).

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

We will reject your application if—

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

3. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: March 11, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: April 26, 2004.

The dates and times for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition. The application package also specifies the hours of operation of the e-Application Web site.

We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: June 25, 2004.

4. Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.

5. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

6. Other Submission Requirements: Instructions and requirements for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition.

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.

Pilot Project for Electronic Submission of Applications: We are continuing to expand our pilot project for electronic submission of applications to include additional formula grant programs and additional discretionary grant competitions. Special Education—Technical Assistance and Dissemination of Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Regional Resource Centers competition—CFDA Number 84.326R is one of the competitions included in the pilot project. If you are an applicant under the Special Education—Technical Assistance and Dissemination of Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Regional Resource Centers competition, 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). If you use e-Application Start Printed Page 11399you will be entering data online while completing your application. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us. If you participate in this voluntary pilot project by submitting an application electronically, the data you enter online will be saved into a database. We request your participation in e-Application. We shall continue to evaluate its success and solicit suggestions for its improvement.

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

  • Your participation is voluntary.
  • When you enter the e-Application system, you will find information about its hours of operation. We strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to initiate an e-Application package.
  • You will not receive 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.
  • You may submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • Your e-Application must comply with any page limit requirements described in this notice.
  • 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 of submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424) to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

1. Print ED 424 from e-Application.

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 other forms at a later date.

Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of System Unavailability: If you elect to participate in the e-Application pilot for the Special Education—Technical Assistance and Dissemination of Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Regional Resource Centers competition and you are prevented from submitting your application on the application deadline 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. We will grant this extension if—

1. You are 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 application deadline date; or

(b) The e-Application system is 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 application deadline date.

We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgement of any system unavailability, you may contact either (1) the person listed elsewhere in this notice under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-GRANTS help desk at 1-888-336-8930.

You may access the electronic grant application for the Special Education—Technical Assistance and Dissemination of Services and Results for Children with Disabilities—Regional Resource Centers competition at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

V. Application Review Information

Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are listed in 34 CFR 75.210 of EDGAR. The specific selection criteria to be used for this competition are in the application package.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Reporting: At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118.

4. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the Department is currently developing measures that will yield information on various aspects of the quality of the Technical Assistance to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program (e.g., the extent to which projects use high quality methods and materials, provide useful products and services, and contribute to improving results for children with disabilities (States report improved ability to provide technical assistance as a result of projects and demonstrate improved results for children with disabilities)). Data on these measures will be collected from the projects funded under this notice.

Grantees will also be required to report information on their projects' performance in annual reports to the Department (EDGAR, 34 CFR 75.590).

VII. Agency Contact

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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: 1-202-205-8207.

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 listed in this section.

VIII. Other Information

Electronic Access to This Document: You may view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: www.ed.gov/​news/​fedregister.

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-Start Printed Page 11400888-293-6498; 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: www.gpoaccess.gov/​nara/​index.html.

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Dated: March 4, 2004.

Troy R. Justesen,

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. 04-5389 Filed 3-9-04; 8:45 am]

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