Flexibility and Waivers – Dear Colleague on Local Flex in Washington – NCLB Policy Letters to States

March 8, 2004

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to encourage you to seriously consider joining Seattle Public Schools as a Local Flexibility Demonstration (Local-Flex) District. This program will enable up to 80 school districts to consolidate the funds they receive under the Teacher Quality (Title II, Part A), Educational Technology (Title II, Part D), Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (Title IV, Part A) and Innovative Programs (Title V, Part A) under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Districts awarded Local Flex authority may use those funds for any educational activity permitted under NCLB. This flexibility is intended to help participating districts meet their State’s definition of adequate yearly progress, and attain measurable goals for improving student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps.

For Seattle Public Schools, which recently became the first Local-Flex district in the nation, the flexibility offered by the program will make it possible for the district to target resources where needed to implement its long-range plans to improve academic achievement for all students, and to narrow and eliminate student achievement gaps.

Seattle Public Schools is Washington State’s largest public school district, with a total enrollment of approximately 47,000 students, grades K-12, who come from many different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Like many urban districts, Seattle serves a large group of economically disadvantaged students (approximately 40% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch). The district also serves a large number of students with disabilities and students who are English language learners (students in the Seattle Public Schools speak more than 76 languages).

The district has worked for a number of years to overcome the problem of persistent achievement gaps among the diverse groups of students it serves. In June 2001, the district and its community partners undertook a long-range planning effort to address this concern. As a result of this effort, the district has strategic goals and priorities and an action plan to implement them. The flexibility provided by the Local-Flex program has given Seattle the opportunity to integrate federal funds and other resources, and better align those resources with the vision, mission, priorities, and strategies the district has developed. The district expects that the ability to align resources with its plan will expedite implementation of the plan, which, in turn, will lead to annual increases in the number of African-American, Latino, and Native American students who meet academic standards and who graduate from high school on time. The district also anticipates increasing the number of students who re-enter regular school settings after attending alternative schools, and expects to see increasing numbers of formerly educationally disadvantaged students accepted into advanced learning programs.

For Seattle, Local Flex will facilitate efforts to meet district and State student achievement goals and ensure that students who have not succeeded in the past are better able to succeed in the future. Ultimately, the flexibility provisions under NCLB allow States and school districts to make better use of Federal resources so that all of their students, regardless of their racial, ethnic, or economic backgrounds, their national origin or their disability status, can achieve.

We hope your district will join Seattle and take advantage of the opportunities the Local-Flex authority provides to help you meet your unique challenges as you endeavor to ensure that no child is left behind.


Raymond Simon
Assistant Secretary,
Office of Elementary and
Secondary Education
Raj Manhas
Seattle Public Schools

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Flexibility and Waivers - Dear Colleague on Local Flex in Washington - NCLB Policy Letters to States