Flexibility and Waivers
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Under several education laws, States, school districts, and other educators now have greater flexibility in how they may use federal program funds to support State and local school improvement efforts. Flexibility initiatives, such as Ed-Flex, waivers, and other forms of flexibility including schoolwide programs, and certain provisions in Title IX of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, offer States, school districts, and others an opportunity to adapt federal programs in ways that best educate children and improve teaching and learning.
This website contains information on flexibility initiatives and provides information on how States, school districts, and others may use the flexibility available to them to improve teaching and learning.
Letter and Summary of the Principal Flexibility Provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to Chief State School Officers. (January 14)
Questions regarding waiver provisions? Contact the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject to the restrictions and conditions in Section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), the Secretary of Education may waive statutory or regulatory requirements of the ESEA that are applicable to State Educational Agencies, local educational agencies, Indian tribes, or schools. Section 9401(b)of the ESEA details the information that a waiver applicant must submit to the Department. Section 9401(c)specifies certain requirements that the Secretary may not waive.
Transferability is a new ESEA flexibility authority that allows States and local educational agencies (LEAs) to transfer a portion of the funds that they receive under certain Federal programs to other specified programs that most effectively address their unique needs and to allocations for certain activities under Title I.
A State may transfer up to 50 percent of the non-administrative funds allotted to it to carry out State-level activities under certain provisions identified in the statute.
An LEA (except an LEA identified for improvement under 1116(c) or subject to corrective action under section 1116(c)(9)) may transfer up to 50 percent of the funds allocated to it by formula under certain provisions identified in the statute.
An LEA identified for improvement under section 1116(c) may transfer not more than 30 percent of the funds allocated to it by formula under the provisions identified in the statute to its allocation for school improvement under section 1003 or to any other allocation listed in the statute if the transferred funds are used only for LEA improvement activities consistent with section 1116(c). The LEA may not transfer funds allocated under Part A of Title I to any other program.
An LEA identified for corrective action is prohibited from transferring funds under the transferability authority.
The State Flexibility Authority program (State-Flex) is a new program that authorizes the Secretary to grant flexibility authority to up to seven eligible State educational agencies (SEAs). With this authority, an SEA may (1) consolidate and use certain Federal funds reserved for State administration and State-level activities for any educational purpose authorized under the ESEA; (2) specify how local educational agencies (LEAs) in the State use Innovative Program funds under Part A of Title V; and (3) enter into performance agreements with four to ten LEAs in the State, permitting those LEAs to consolidate certain Federal funds and to use those funds for any ESEA purpose consistent with the SEA’s State-Flex plan. (Note that “State-Flex” is different than “Ed-Flex,” which is a separate program that authorizes the Secretary to delegate waiver authority to eligible SEAs).
The Local Flexibility Demonstration Program (Local-Flex) is a new flexibility program that authorizes the Secretary to enter into local flexibility demonstration agreements with a total of up to 80 local educational agencies (LEAs) in States that do not have State-Flex authority. Consistent with the purposes of the program, Local-Flex LEAs may consolidate and use certain Federal funds for any educational purpose authorized under the ESEA. Unlike the LEA performance agreements under State-Flex (which are between SEAs and LEAs), the flexibility agreements under Local-Flex are directly between the Secretary and LEAs.
Ed-Flex was first enacted in 1994 as a demonstration program as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Initially, the Secretary was authorized to designate six states as Ed-Flex states. The 1996 amendments to the legislation authorized the Secretary to delegate Ed-Flex waiver authority to six additional states. By statute, states received Ed-Flex authority for up to five years.
The Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999 allowed any state educational agency that met the eligibility criteria to receive Ed-Flex authority for up to five years. The 1999 Ed-Flex law contained stronger accountability provisions for states than its predecessor statute. Both the demonstration and the 1999 program run concurrently, until the last Ed-Flex demo state’s authority expires in 2002.
Part B of Title VI of the reauthorized ESEA contains three separate Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) initiatives that are designed to help rural districts that may lack the personnel and resources to compete effectively for Federal competitive grants and that often receive grant allocations in amounts that are too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes. The three initiatives are:
- The Alternative Uses of Funds Authority
- The Small, Rural School Grant Program
- The Rural and Low-Income School Program
The REAP Alternative Uses of Funds Authority is a flexibility provision that allows eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) to combine funding under certain programs to carry out local activities under other specified Federal programs.
The Small, Rural School Grant Program, which complements the Alternate Uses of Funds authority, authorizes the Secretary to award formula grants directly to eligible LEAs (i.e., those LEAs eligible under the alternative uses of funds program described above) to carry out activities authorized under other specified Federal programs.
Under the Rural and Low-Income School Program, designed to address the needs of rural, low-income schools, the Secretary awards formula grants to State Educational Agencies (SEAs), which in turn award subgrants to eligible LEAs either competitively or on a formula basis. The funds are to be used to carry out activities specified by the statute.
Certain Provisions in ESEA Title IX
Consolidated use of administrative funds at the state and local levels
- Sec. 9203. CONSOLIDATION OF FUNDS FOR LOCAL ADMINISTRATION.
- Sec. 9204. CONSOLIDATED SET-ASIDE FOR DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR FUNDS.
Coordination of programs and consolidated applications by SEAs and LEAs
- PART C — COORDINATION OF PROGRAMS; CONSOLIDATED STATE AND LOCAL PLANS AND APPLICATIONS