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Notice

Safe Schools/Healthy Students

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AGENCY:

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Department of Education.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions.

SUMMARY:

The Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Justice (DOJ) issue this notice to propose a priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (SS/HS). We propose this action to focus Federal financial assistance on safe, disciplined and drug-free learning environments and healthy childhood development. We intend the priority to support the implementation and enhancement of integrated, comprehensive community-wide plans that create safe and drug-free schools and promote healthy childhood development. The Associate Deputy Under Secretary may use this priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2004 and later years.

DATES:

We must receive your comments on or before April 19, 2004.

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ADDRESSES:

Address all comments about this proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions to Karen Dorsey, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3E347, Washington, DC 20202-6450. If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following address: Karen.Dorsey@ed.gov. Please include the following in the subject line of all e-mails, “Comments on SS/HS NPP.”

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Karen Dorsey. Telephone (202) 708-4674 or via Internet: Karen.Dorsey@ed.gov.

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 contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation to Comment

We invite you to submit comments regarding the proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions, we urge you to identify clearly the specific proposed priority, selection criterion, requirement or definition your comment addresses.

We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirements of reducing regulatory burden that might result from the proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.

During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about this proposed priority in room 3E316 at 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record

On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or printer magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

We will announce the final priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing or funding additional priorities, other selection criteria, or other requirements, or changing definitions, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

Note:

This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use this priority, we will invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority follows:

Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority we consider only applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).

Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference priority we give competitive preference to an application by either (1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).

Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority we are particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Discussion of Proposed Priority

Background

The SS/HS grant program draws on the best practices of the education, justice, social service, and mental health systems to promote enhanced resources for prevention programs and prosocial services for youth. The SS/HS grant program is based on evidence that a comprehensive, integrated community-wide approach is an effective way to promote healthy child development and address the problems of school violence and alcohol and other drug abuse. Key to the grant program is the creation and implementation of a comprehensive plan that addresses violence and alcohol and other drug abuse and promotes prosocial skills and healthy child development for youth.

A critical feature of SS/HS is the linking and integration of existing and new services and activities into a comprehensive approach to violence prevention and healthy child development that reflects an overall vision for the community, not the isolated objectives of a single activity, particularly the reliance on security devices alone. The primary objectives of a community's SS/HS plan should be to present a thoughtful, well-coordinated strategy that will unify and enhance existing programs and services and to develop a systematic approach for sustaining those activities, curricula, programs, and services that prove to be effective.

Proposed Priority

This proposed priority would support the projects of local educational agencies proposing to implement an integrated, comprehensive community-wide plan designed to create safe and drug-free schools and promote prosocial skills and healthy childhood development in youth. Plans must focus activities, curricula, programs, and services in a manner that responds to all of the following six elements:

  • Element One—Safe school environment—Note: We propose that no more than 10 percent of the total budget for each year may be used to support costs associated with (1) security equipment and personnel, and (2) minor remodeling of school facilities to improve school safety;
  • Element Two—Alcohol and other drugs and violence prevention and early intervention programs;
  • Element Three—School and community mental health preventive and treatment intervention services;
  • Element Four—Early childhood psychosocial and emotional development programs;
  • Element Five—Supporting and connecting schools and communities; and
  • Element Six—Safe school policies.

Discussion of Proposed Selection Criteria

Background

The SS/HS grant program was established in 1999 with the award of 54 grants. The SS/HS grant program was created to provide Federal financial Start Printed Page 12843assistance to school districts and communities to promote ongoing partnerships as a way of enhancing and expanding their existing activities relating to youth violence prevention and healthy child development. Since the original competition in 1999 two additional competitions have been held (FY 2001 and FY 2002). Our experience with competitions, peer reviewers, applicants, and funded grantees demonstrates the need to develop selection criteria that more adequately represent the qualities of successful SS/HS grantees. For example, selection criteria used in previous competitions may have unintentionally limited the opportunity for reviewers to evaluate the existence of an applicant's partnership and its capacity to use Federal financial assistance efficiently and effectively to enhance and expand current activities.

To improve the program we held focus groups with current grantees and other professionals with a working knowledge of the SS/HS program to identify key qualities of successful SS/HS grantees and gathered related input from the Federal program staff who monitor SS/HS grants. All of these factors were used to develop the following proposed selection criteria.

Proposed Selection Criteria

We propose the following selection criteria for this program:

1. Community Assessment

(a) The extent to which specific gaps or weaknesses in services, infrastructure, opportunities, and/or resources have been identified and will be addressed by the proposed project and the nature and magnitude of those gaps and weaknesses are based on quantitative and qualitative data for the district, students, families and the community. An example of the kinds of problems that might be identified and addressed would be a high number of truant students, in relation to comparable jurisdictions, and a lack of truancy officers and programs.

(b) The extent to which existing services, infrastructure, opportunities and resources are described and integrated with the proposed project. An example citing existing services would be the number of after school programs available to students that would be improved by adding supplemental services and staff through the proposed project.

(c) The extent to which the applicant will serve the entire school district or the extent to which sufficient rationale is provided for selecting particular schools and/or areas and why a district-wide approach is not feasible or appropriate.

(d) The extent to which the target population is clearly identified and defined in terms of the number of students/families/staff to be served.

2. Goals, Objectives and Performance Indicators

(a) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and performance indicators for the project are related to data provided in the “Community Assessment” section.

(b) The extent to which the applicant includes at least one measurable and attainable performance indicator for each of the six elements in the priority and at least one performance indicator for the SS/HS partnership, for a total of at least seven performance indicators.

(c) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and performance indicators are reflected in proposed programs, curricula, and other activities.

(d) The extent to which the applicant includes baseline data and a source of data for the periodic measuring of progress of project-specific performance indicators and for required Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) performance indicators.

3. Project Design

(a) The extent to which the project design builds upon community assessment data, and/or identified gaps or weaknesses in existing services, infrastructure, opportunities, and resources.

(b) The extent to which the applicant can demonstrate that programs, training, curriculum, and other activities selected for the project reflect current research and use evidence-based and effective practices and that they are responsive to the targeted population to be served, including meeting cultural and linguistic needs.

(c) The extent to which the proposed short- and long-term strategies will promote healthy child development and school environments that are safe, disciplined, and drug-free.

(d) The extent to which the proposed short- and long-term strategies allow for systematic development of infrastructure that builds organizational, community, and individual capacity to sustain outcomes beyond the life of the grant.

(e) The extent to which the project design addresses the six elements of the priority, integrating existing and new services into a comprehensive approach to violence prevention and healthy childhood development.

4. Partnership and Community Readiness

(a) The extent to which the applicant has demonstrated the existence of an active school-community partnership prior to planning and submitting its SS/HS application. Examples of how to demonstrate the existing partnership can include a description of the history of the partnership, including the circumstances around its creation and accomplishments to date.

(b) The extent to which the applicant will engage multiple and diverse sectors of the community in its strategic planning process. Examples of possible community participants include but are not limited to nonprofit community groups, faith-based organizations, private schools, teachers, youth, parents, and supervisory and line staff of social service agencies.

(c) The extent to which the applicant's memorandum of agreement for SS/HS Partners includes: A mission statement for the SS/HS partnership; a delineation of the roles and responsibilities of each partner; a process for communicating and sharing resources; and other pertinent information to evaluate the partnership's likelihood of successfully implementing the project.

(d) The extent to which the applicant's memorandum of agreement for mental health services demonstrates the willingness of the mental health authority to provide administrative oversight of mental health services. This agreement describes a process for securing mental health providers and procedures to be used for referral, treatment, and follow-up for children and adolescents with serious mental health problems. This agreement provides evidence that there will be integration, coordination, and resource sharing with mental health and social service providers by schools and other community-based programs.

5. Evaluation

(a) The extent to which the applicant describes an appropriate evaluation design—using both quantitative and qualitative methods, including: (1) What types of data will be collected; (2) when various types of data will be collected; (3) what evaluation methods will be used and why; (4) what instruments will be developed and when; (5) how the data will be analyzed; (6) when reports of results and outcomes will be available; (7) how data and other information will be used for strategic planning, measuring progress, making programmatic adjustments, and keeping the proposed strategy focused on its Start Printed Page 12844overall objective of promoting healthy childhood development and preventing violence and alcohol and other drug abuse; and (8) how the applicant will use the information collected through the evaluation to support SS/HS GPRA indicators.

(b) The extent to which the individual or organization that has been selected or will be sought to serve as the local evaluator has adequate qualifications and experience to conduct the local evaluation.

(c) The extent to which the applicant allocates an appropriate and reasonable level of resources to local project evaluation. Please note: Consistent with funding restrictions established for the program, a minimum of 7 percent of the total budget must be designated for local evaluation activities.

6. Program Management

(a) The extent to which the roles and responsibilities of key staff, including the full-time project director, and partners are defined.

(b) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the proposed project on time, including clearly defined timelines with reasonable dates for implementing and accomplishing project tasks.

(c) The adequacy of procedures for communicating and sharing information among all partners, to ensure feedback and continuous improvement in the operation of the project.

7. Budget

(a) The extent to which the proposed budget and narrative correspond to the project design and provide adequate documentation and justification for how funds will be used and how costs were calculated.

(b) The extent to which the applicant demonstrates current fiscal control and accounting procedures to ensure prudent use, proper and timely disbursement, and accurate accounting of funds received under the grant.

Additional Selection Factors

We propose to consider the following two factors in selecting an application for an award: (1) Geographic distribution and diversity of activities addressed by the projects; and (2) equitable distribution of funds among urban, suburban and rural local educational agencies.

Discussion of Proposed Requirements

Background

SS/HS applicants from prior competitions have suggested that we clarify certain of the SS/HS application and other requirements. These include: Eligibility requirements; requirements that must be met for an application to be forwarded to peer review; the maximum funding that may be requested; and the limits on the amount of funds that may be used for certain grant activities. Accordingly we propose the following requirements:

Proposed Requirements

Application and Eligibility. We propose that, before we will submit an SS/HS application for peer review, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

(1) The local educational agency/applicant must not have received funds or services under the SS/HS initiative under any previous fiscal years.

(2) The applicant's request for funding must not exceed the maximum amount established for its defined urbancity. The maximum request for SS/HS funds is $3 million for urban schools for a 12-month period; $2 million for suburban schools for a 12-month period; and $1 million for rural and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools for a 12-month period. To determine urbancity and the maximum amount they are eligible to apply for, all applicants except BIA schools must use the district locale code on the National Public School and School District Locator website and the definitions established for rural, suburban and urban to determine urbanicity. A BIA school's request must not exceed $1 million.

(3) The applicant must include in its application two memoranda of agreement demonstrating the commitment of the required SS/HS partners. Two agreements must be signed by the required partners (as described below) and dated no earlier than six months prior to the SS/HS application deadline. Applicants must also include information in the application that supports the selection of the identified local law enforcement and juvenile justice partner and describe how those partners' activities will support and be integrated in the SS/HS strategy. Applicants must contact their State Department of Mental Health to identify the relevant local public mental health authority. Mental health entities that have no legal authority in the administrative oversight of the delivery of mental health services are not acceptable as the sole mental health partner. Each SS/HS application must include the local public mental health authority (as defined elsewhere in this notice) as a partner. (The local public mental health authority is not required to provide mental health services to the target population but must provide administrative control or oversight of the delivery of mental health services.)

(a) The first of these two agreements is the Memorandum of Agreement for the SS/HS Partners. This agreement must contain the signatures of the school superintendent and authorized representatives for the local public mental health authority and local law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies. This agreement must include the following information: A mission statement for the SS/HS partnership; the goals and objectives of the partnership; desired outcomes for the partnership; a description of how information will be shared among partners; and a description of the roles and responsibilities of each partner. Applicants submitting as a consortium of LEAs must demonstrate partnership with the relevant local law enforcement agency (or agencies), public mental heath authority (or authorities) and juvenile justice agency (or agencies) for each of the participating LEAs in the consortium. Applicants must indicate those instances where a local law enforcement agency, public mental health authority, or juvenile justice agency has authority or jurisdiction for one or more of the participating LEAs in the consortium.

(b) The second of these two agreements is the Memorandum of Agreement for Mental Health Services. This agreement must contain the signatures of the school superintendent and the authorized representative of the local public mental health authority. The local public mental health authority must agree to provide administrative control and/or oversight of the delivery of mental health services. This agreement also must state procedures to be used for referral, treatment, and follow-up for children and adolescents with serious mental health problems. Applicants submitting as a consortium of LEAs must demonstrate partnership with the relevant public mental health authority (or authorities) for each of the participating LEAs in the consortium. Applicants must indicate those instances where a local public mental health authority has authority/jurisdiction for one or more of the participating LEAs in the consortium.

Proposed Funding Restrictions

We propose that no less than 7 percent of a grantee's budget for each year may be used to support costs associated with local evaluation activities.

Proposed Definitions

Several important terms associated with this competition are not defined in Start Printed Page 12845the statute. We propose the following definitions:

1. Authorized representative—We propose defining the term authorized representative as the official within an organization with the legal authority to give assurances, make commitments, enter into contracts, and execute such documents on behalf of the organization as may be required by the Department of Education (the Department), including certification that commitments made on grant proposals will be honored and that the applicant agrees to comply with the Department's regulations, guidelines, and policies.

2. Local law enforcement agency—We propose defining the term local law enforcement agency as the agency (or agencies) that has law enforcement authority for the LEA. Examples of local law enforcement agencies include: municipal, county, and state police; tribal police and councils; and sheriffs' departments.

3. Local public mental health authority—We propose defining the term local public mental health authority as the entity legally constituted (directly or through contract with the State mental health authority) to provide administrative control or oversight of mental health services delivery within the community.

4. Local juvenile justice agency—We propose defining the term local juvenile justice agency as an agency or entity at the local level that is officially recognized by state or local government to address juvenile justice system issues in the communities to be served by the grant. Examples of juvenile justice agencies include: Juvenile justice task forces; juvenile justice centers; juvenile or family courts; juvenile probation agencies; and juvenile corrections agencies.

5. Urban districts—We propose defining the term urban districts as those with a designated locale code of Large Central City (1) or Mid-Size Central City (2) using the National Center for Education Statistics' National Public School and School District Locator (available online at http://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​districtsearch/​).

6. Suburban districts—We propose defining the term suburban districts as those with a designated local code of Urban Fringe of Large City (3) or Urban Fringe of Mid-Size City (4) using the National Center for Education Statistics' National Public School and School District Locator (available online at http://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​districtsearch/​).

7. Rural districts—We propose defining the term rural districts as those with a designated local code of Large Town (5), Small Town (6) or Rural, outside MSA (7), or Rural, inside MSA (8) using the National Center for Education Statistics' National Public School and School District Locator (available online at http://nces.ed.gov/​ccd/​districtsearch/​).

Executive Order 12866

This notice of proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.

The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and efficiently.

In assessing the potential costs and benefits—both quantitative and qualitative—of this notice of proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements and definitions we have determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs.

We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of their governmental functions.

Summary of potential costs and benefits: The potential costs associated with this proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions are minimal while the benefits are significant. Grantees may anticipate costs with completing the application process in terms of staff and partner time, copying, and mailing or delivery.

The benefit of this proposed priority, selection criteria, requirements, and definitions is that grantees that develop a comprehensive, community-wide SS/HS plan may receive significant Federal assistance to support the implementation and enhancement of prevention and intervention activities, programs and services that create safe and drug-free schools and promote healthy childhood development.

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 strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination and review of the proposed Federal financial assistance.

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

Applicable Program Regulations

The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 98, 99, and 299.

Electronic Access to This Document

You may view this document, as well as 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/​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 1-888-293-6498; 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.gpoaccess.gov/​nara/​index.html.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 84.184L Safe Schools/Healthy Students.)

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Program Authority: Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (20 U.S.C. 7131); Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 290aa); and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (42 U.S.C. 5614(b)(4)(e) and 5781 et seq.).

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Dated: March 16, 2004.

Deborah Price,

Deputy Under Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

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[FR Doc. 04-6195 Filed 3-17-04; 8:45 am]

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