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Federal Programs Office Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Division of Federal Programs oversees Title I, Title I-A (School Improvement), Title I-D, Title II, Title III, Title IV, Rural and Low Income Grants (RLIS), and SIG 1003G grants (Competitive Grant for School Improvement).

PDE understands that the mandated closure of Pennsylvania schools creates uncertainty regarding administration of federally funded ESEA grants for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. The Division of Federal Programs will work with local education agencies (LEAs) to provide the maximum flexibility available during this unprecedented situation.

Below is a list of general questions and answers. PDE will update this list with additional guidance as needed.

Page last updated: 5:30 pm on April 10, 2020

1. How can I contact my regional coordinator or team members if I have questions?

PDE Division of Federal Program staff are teleworking during this time. You may continue to email your regional coordinator or fiscal technician with questions. In addition, the new PA Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Portal, eGrants, FAI, and other systems remain open and accessible during COVID-19 response efforts.

2. Will LEAs receive an extension to submit 2019-20 Consolidated Application amendments and/or funding adjustments?

Yes. The deadline to submit 2019-20 Consolidated Application amendments and funding adjustments has been extended to May 15, 2020. This deadline may be re-evaluated.

3. Will monitoring visits and desk audits scheduled for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year be rescheduled or cancelled?

For the safety and health of all staff and students within the Commonwealth, the Division of Federal Programs is suspending all monitoring, including desk audits and virtual monitoring until further notice. We do not want any staff to risk their health to obtain documentation. We plan to be as flexible as possible.

For specific questions concerning monitoring visits and desk audits, contact Erin Derr, Monitoring Manager, at jder@pa.gov.

4. Will monthly payments of federal grants continue?

LEAs received payment on March 23, 2020 for all consolidated application grants, as long as the LEA had an "Active" status in FAI. PDE does not anticipate a disruption of payments for April, provided LEAs submit Quarterly Reports by April 14, 2020.

5. Can an LEA use Title I-A and other federal funds to pay federally paid staff during the state-mandated school closure?

Yes, an LEA may continue to pay staff from federal funds during the mandated school closure, provided the following conditions are met:

  • Local LEA policies and procedures regarding payment of staff during "extenuating or unprecedented" circumstances permit such payment. Records and documentation must be maintained to substantiate costs.
  • Staff who are teleworking must maintain time and effort records to document time spent working on cost objectives related to federal grants. Federal grants may only be used to support activities and cost objectives related to the intent of the federal grant program. If an employee's job duties have temporarily changed or shifted due to COVID-19 response efforts, their salary may not be allowable or allocable to a federal grant.
  • Employees who are teleworking and who had former permanent set schedules may no longer be working those same schedules. If schedules are currently following the set schedule, time and effort records are required during the closure to document proper allocation to funding sources.

6. Can Title I-A and IV-A funds pay for technology such as Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, or Wi-Fi hotspots and educational software programs to support online learning for students during the state-mandated school closure?

Yes, purchases to support online learning for students are permitted under Title I and Title IV, provided:

  1. Devices purchased are inventoried and tracked, and
  2. Supplement, Not Supplant provisions are maintained. Title I purchases can only benefit Title I schools.

7. Can Title II-A funds pay for technology such as Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, or Wi-Fi hotspots and educational software programs to support online learning and professional development for teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators during the mandated school closure?

Yes, purchases to support online learning and professional development for staff are permitted under Title II, provided:

  1. Devices purchased are tracked, inventoried, and utilized for staff to effectively integrate technology into instruction; and
  2. Supplement, Not Supplant provisions are maintained.

8. If Performance Goals are impacted because of mandated school closures, should these be changed during funding adjustments?

This is a local decision. If an LEA wants to modify goals because of potential impacts to program outcomes, they may. However, PDE will not return applications that have already been submitted. Per Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, LEAs will not be penalized for not meeting goals due to COVID-19 response efforts.

9. Are LEAs expected to continue meaningful consultation with nonpublic school representatives for the 2020-21 school year?

Yes. Nonpublic consultation should continue, but may require adaptations such as meeting virtually or by phone to discuss all required components listed on the Nonpublic Affirmation Form.

10. Has the Federal Programs Conference scheduled for May 3-6, 2020 been cancelled?

Yes. The conference has been rescheduled for October 12-15, 2020, at Seven Springs. For more information, visit www.pafpc.org.

11. Will eGrants open with preliminary allocations for the 2020-21 program year?

We anticipate an on-time (mid-May) opening for the new eGrants system for 2020-21. eGrants is open during the state-mandated school closure for submission of 2019-20 funding adjustments and amendments. Please contact ra-egrantshelp@pa.gov with eGrants-related issues.

12. How should LEAs handle the cancelling of scheduled professional development and other activities within our budgets? Will LEAs have extra time to spend those dollars?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) authorizes LEAs to carry over up to 100% of Title II-A, III-A, and IV-A funds that remain after September 30, 2020. LEAs that carry over these 2019-20 funds will have an additional 12 months (October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021) to spend the funding.

In addition, LEAs may carry over up to 15% of their Title I allocation. If your LEA anticipates exceeding the 15% threshold, contact your regional coordinator.

In addition, OMB has released guidance to states regarding the cancellation of planned activities as outlined below. This flexibility is only applicable to the cancellation of events due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • Recipients are permitted to charge costs related to the cancellation of events, travel, or other activities necessary and reasonable for the performance of the award, or the pausing and restarting of grant funded activities, due to the public health emergency.
  • LEAs may charge the full cost of cancellation.
  • LEAs should consider that charging cancellation costs to the grant does not mean additional funds may be available in the future to eventually carry over the event or travel.
  • LEAs must maintain appropriate cost documentation.

13. Is there flexibility for procurement procedures during the COVID-19 response efforts?

Per Office of Management and Budget guidance, awarding agencies may waive the procurement requirements contained in 2 CPR§ 200.319(b) regarding geographical preferences and 2 CPR§ 200.321 regarding contracting small and minority businesses, women's business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms.

14. How do we handle existing contracts that are being supported with federal funds?

LEAs must maintain oversight of contracts to ensure that contractors perform in accordance with the terms, conditions, and specifications of their contracts or purchase orders (2 CFR § 200.318). LEAs are encouraged to review the terms and conditions of all existing contracts to determine if the scope of work and pay structures will change as a result of COVID-19 response efforts. LEAs may need to amend contracts or amounts, modify existing services, or terminate the contract if services will not continue.

15. Are there any changes to Uniform Grants Guidance because of COVID-19?

Yes, several of the changes related to Uniform Grant Guidance are mentioned on this page. Division of Federal Program staff will continue to review this information and further guidance will be forthcoming. Access additional information on Uniform Grant Guidance.