CST Publication: Using Federal Education Formula Funds for School Turnaround Initiatives: Opportunities for State Education Agencies

Using Federal Education Formula Funds for School Turnaround Initiatives: Opportunities for State Education Agencies

Melissa Junge & Sheara Krvaric
Federal Education Group, PLLC

Much has been written on the subject of school turnaround, but relatively little about how to pay for turnaround-related work. Turning around low-performing schools not only requires changing instructional and related practices, but changing spending patterns as well. Too often education dollars are spent on the same costs from year-to-year, with little scrutiny of how closely costs align to the needs of schools and students.

This handbook addresses how U.S. Department of Education (ED) formula grants, such as Title I, Title II, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), can be used to support school turnaround efforts. 2 ED formula grants often are overlooked as funding sources for turnaround efforts because ED formula grant programs are subject to complex rules and regulations that are difficult to navigate. As a result, states, school districts, and schools often are uncertain about what they can spend their money on. Even where spending options are well understood, it can be challenging to use federal funds effectively while still meeting paperwork and other compliance requirements.

State education agencies (SEAs) play a critical role in helping districts and schools navigate federal grant rules and spend funds effectively. To support SEAs in fulfilling this role, this handbook presents the following information:

  • Four strategies SEAs can use to create the conditions for maximizing ED formula
    grants for turnaround activities, including:
    • Strategy 1: Provide Clear Guidance Aligned to Turnaround Activities.
    • Strategy 2: Eliminate Barriers to Full Use of Schoolwide Programs.
    • Strategy 3: Focus on Aligning Spending to Needs.
    • Strategy 4: Build Oversight Processes That Incentivize High-QualityProgramming.
  • An overview of how districts and schools can use Title I, Part A;3 Title II, Part A;4 and
    IDEA, Part B5 funds to support turnaround efforts.