Frequently Asked Questions on Contracts for Excellence Completing 2007-08 Contracts And Implementing 2008-09 Contracts
The University of the State of New York
The State Education Department
Office of School Operations and Management Services
What are the Regents expectations about districts’ compliance with C4E requirements?
A: The Regents expect districts to implement C4E consistent with the law and regulations and in a way that fulfills the intent of the legislation: to improve student achievement, and predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils. Districts must target funds to students with the greatest educational needs, including but not limited to students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency or who are English language learners, students living in poverty, and students with low academic achievement and give priority to schools serving concentrations of such students. Programs and activities that are implemented as part of the C4E must be aligned with schools’ achievement needs and have the greatest likelihood of positively impacting student achievement. Districts must not supplant existing district programs beyond the legislated percent of the Contract Amount that is allowed for 2008-09.
In addition, the Regents expect all C4E districts to:
- Look at where school leaders and teachers are being placed to ensure that students with the greatest educational needs benefit.
- Identify how funds will be spent with breakdowns school-by-school and program-by-program.
- Communicate with the public to explain how the contract will benefit students.
- Show that they obtained public comment in their contract application.
- Implement innovative approaches such as:
- Educational services in the arts and music that help improve academic achievement.
- After-school programs that include positive youth development.
- Programs that collaborate with health and mental health providers are encouraged.
- Technology is an allowable activity if it is an integral part of one the allowable programs.
- Programs to address serious attendance issues and set attendance goals as part of increasing student time on task.
- Collaborate with USNY institutions.
In addition the Regents encourage C4E districts to:
- Examine targeting of funds versus using funds more broadly;
- Focusing a portion of funds on preventing failure and sustaining success;
- Promote effective strategies for students with disabilities;
- Promote effective strategies for schools with concentrations of students from poverty and with multiple learning and support needs; and
- Supplementing and not supplanting existing district programs.
2. What are the benefits to C4E school districts for participating in evaluating the effectiveness of C4E?
- Participating in evaluation efforts will give districts the ability to know what works and to invest in what is proven to work. This should increase student achievement and school accountability status.
- Evaluation results can help in planning school improvement and collaborative efforts like C4E.
- Evaluation results can help districts to get public support for school budgets and programs by using them as a public relations tool.
- Evaluation results can help districts to demonstrate needs and advocate for more money.
- Evaluation results can help districts to advocate for increased flexibility.
3. What is the timeline for submitting and approving Contracts for Excellence?
A: For the 2008-09 school year, districts must submit their C4Es by July 22, 2008. The Department will review these and inform districts by August 15, 2008 whether the C4E is approvable. The Commissioner is expected to approve Contracts by September 2, 2008.
4. What are remaining responsibilities for 2007-08 Contracts for Excellence?
Last date for districts to notify SED if they are planning to amend 2007-08 C4E’s
June 15, 2008
2007-08 amendment period closes
SED posts Excel template for Districts to record actual 2007-08 expenditures
Sept. 1, 2008
Deadline for district submission of actual expenditures using SED template on website
Oct 15, 2008
Districts (except Big 5 Cities) submit to SED results of independent auditor certification of 2007-08 C4E20s
Big 5 City school districts submit to SED results of independent auditor certification of 2007-08 C4E20s
Jan. 15, 2009
Districts (except Big 5 Cities) submit to SED corrective action plans for any problems identified by independent auditors
April 1, 2009
Big 5 city school districts submit to SED corrective action plans for any problems identified by independent auditors
5. What is the recommended 2008-09 time line for Contracts for Excellence?
April 9, 2008
State budget passed (signed into law on April 23, 2008 – Ch.57, L.2008)
June 1, 2008
Districts notify SED of proposed use of 2008-09 C4E Funds for summer 2008 programs
June 26-July 3, 2008
Pilot of C4E on-line system
July 2, 2008
Districts publicize proposed C4E plan—for mandatory public comment period
July 8, 2008
C4E system open for district input
August 1, 2008
Public comment period closes to allow 12 days for assessment of public comment
August 14 , 2008
Last date to post assessment of public comment
August 15 , 2008
2008-09 C4E on-line applications due to NYSED
Target approval date for Commissioner’s approval of Contracts for Excellence
6. Who is required to file a 2008-09 Contract for Excellence (C4E) with the State Education Department?
7. What happens if districts don’t spend all of the funds in their C4E?
A: NYSED will deduct any unspent Foundation Aid subject to C4E requirements from subsequent years’ State Aid. Districts should identify this amount as a liability for 2008-09 budgets. Districts should inform NYSED if they will have any unspent funds; please contact Charles Szuberla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. What happens if a district doesn’t achieve its performance targets?
A: NYSED staff will ask districts for an explanation as to why schools did not meet performance targets and engage in a discussion of what should change as a result. This will help the district to make modifications to its C4E based on student achievement results. NYSED will require districts that don’t meet performance targets to prepare a corrective action plan to meet performance targets in the coming school year.
9. What are the criteria for being a Contract for Excellence school district for 2008-09?
A: Contract status applies to districts receiving an increase in foundation aid of at least $15 million or 10 percent whichever is less, or a Supplemental Educational Improvement Grant and having at least one school:
– requiring academic progress (SRAP) year 2 or above or, – a school in need of improvement (SINI) year 2 or – in corrective action or, – restructuring status.
Contract status also applies to districts that filed a contract in 2007-08 and have received a two-year cumulative increase in aid of at least $27.5 million or 20 percent, and have as of April 1st of the base year, at least one school in need of improvement, in corrective action or restructuring status or requiring academic progress year 2 or above.
10. What is the review process for 2008-09 C4E’s?
A: All C4E’s will be reviewed to ensure that proposed expenditures fall within the allowable programs named in the statute, that the funds predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs including but not limited to students in poverty, LEP students and English language learners and students with low academic achievement. Contracts will be reviewed to ensure performance targets are appropriate for each district’s achievement profile. Targeting to students with the greatest educational needs will be assessed as follows:
- For the Big Five city districts: allocate at least 75 percent of the funds to benefit students having the greatest educational needs enrolled in the top 50 percent of schools within the district ranked in order of greatest to least relative incidence, as measured against total school enrollment, of poverty, disability, limited English proficiency and low student performance.
- For all other districts, allocate at least 75 percent of the funds to benefit students having the greatest educational needs enrolled in schools requiring academic progress (SRAP), or in need of improvement (SINI), or in corrective action, or in restructuring. In all districts, provide a pro rata share for all schools designated as SINI, SRAP, corrective action or restructuring based on their share of total district need.
- NYSED may approve a school district’s proposed allocation in a different manner than that discussed above upon a showing of good cause. Additional information may be considered as to why the district’s C4E strategy should not conform to the above two standards but still meets the intent of the legislation to increase student achievement, to target funding to students with the greatest educational needs and to supplement district effort.
11. Where do districts get information on Contracts for Excellence?
12. What is the role of the school board regarding approval of the Contracts for Excellence?
The school board is responsible for setting policy, and has a central role in determining how Contract for Excellence funds will supplement local funds and be targeted to improve student achievement. However, the statute requires the Commissioner and not boards of education to formally approve the district's C4E. The school superintendent must certify and submit the Contract for approval.
13. How do districts complete a C4E?
A: Under the general leadership of the board of education and the direct leadership of the school superintendent, districts should plan the ways they wish to spend Foundation Aid subject to C4E requirements, consistent with statutory and regulatory specifications for targeting, supplementing and raising student achievement. Districts should develop their contracts using a public process in consultation with parents of students or persons in parental relation to students, teachers, administrators, and any distinguished educator appointed pursuant to Education Law section 211-c. Districts must invite public comment on their Contract for Excellence for 30 days, hold a public hearing and post an assessment of public comment before submitting the Contract to the Department for Commissioner’s approval. Once they have identified the schools, programs and student subgroups where achievement growth is expected, districts enter their proposed contract on the C4E web-based system which can be accessed through the NYSED portal (as is used with State Aid and other NYSED data collection efforts): http://portal.nysed.gov/portal/page/pref/PortalApp.
14. Who enters the data on the on-line application?
A: The superintendent or the superintendent’s designee. The superintendent is required to certify and submit the final C4E.
15. When will the list of C4E districts and dollar amounts be available?
A: It has been posted at www.emsc.nysed.gov/mgtserv/C4E/ .
16. How does NYSED measure district need?
A: NYSED measures need by summing up “need units” for each school and calculating the percent of each school’s need compared to the district total need. The following types of pupils each earn one need unit:
- Students with disabilities
- Students eligible for free and reduced price lunch
- English language learners or limited English proficient students
- Students with low academic achievement (students who achieve at levels 1 or 2 on state assessments of English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades 3-8 or who fail to graduate within 4 years of first entry into 9th grade).
Thus a single student can generate between zero and four need units. Need is summed for each school and calculated as a percent of each district’s total need.
17. In order to meet the regulatory standard of allocating at least 75 percent of the funds proportionate to need in schools that are designated as SINI, SRAP, corrective action or restructuring, C4E districts need to know how NYSED assesses need in each building. When will data on the need in each school be available?
A: It will be shared with C4E districts by May 28, 2008.
18. Does that mean if I have one school in accountability status that 75 percent of funds must go to that school?
A: No, it doesn't. It means that contract funds must be allocated proportionate to need in schools in accountability status before it can be allocated to other schools. After the pro rata share of the contract amount is allocated to these schools based on their full adjustment share of district need (even up to 100 percent if that is where all of the district’s need is located), at least 75 percent of the contract amount must be allocated based on need. Another way to look at this is to say that a maximum of 25 percent of contract funds can be allocated without regard to need.
For example, consider District A which has five schools as follows:
School Percent of District’s Need Accountability Status
1 10 Good Standing
2 10 Good Standing
3 10 Good Standing
4 30 SINI-2
5 40 Corrective Action
Furthermore the district’s Contract Amount is $1,000,000. At least 75 percent of the district’s Contract Amount or $750,000 must be allocated proportionate to need in this district. School 4 has 30 percent of the district’s need so must get at least 30 percent of the Contract Amount ($300,000). Likewise school 5 must get at least 40 percent of the Contract Amount ($400,000). This means that $700,000 is allocated proportionate to need in schools in accountability status. This leaves $50,000 which the district must allocate to its neediest schools in good standing proportionate to the need in those buildings, to meet the 75 percent threshold of allocating to need. $250,000 can be allocated to any school for C4E allowable programs.
19. What are some common misconceptions about Contracts for Excellence?
A: Misconception 1: That C4E is like a grant program with specific dollars associated with it. Fact: C4E is a set of restrictions placed on a portion of a district’s Foundation Aid increase (referred to as Contract funds or the Contract Amount). Two districts can have the same aid increase and one can be a Contract district and the other not. Some distinctions are:
- the Contract district also has school(s) in accountability status for at least two years,
- districts may be comparing different aid totals, including other aids than Foundation Aid, which are not subject to the Contract requirement, or
- one school has charter school tuition increases that are deducted, leading to a final contact amount that is zero or less.
Misconception 2: That Contract activities begun in 2007-08 must be continued in 2008-09 and paid for by either additional taxpayer levy or other district funds. Fact: Contract expenditures incurred in 2007-08 must be continued in 2008-09 with flexibility to reallocate as appropriate. It is important to note that the Foundation Aid that supported C4E programs in 2007-08 is continued 100 percent in 2008-09 so districts don’t need to use other funds to continue these programs.
Misconception 3: The inflationary increase of 3 or 4 percent is a small amount of money to cover the actual cost increases experienced by schools for these new programs.
Fact: The Foundation Aid increase consists of three parts: 1) An unrestricted inflationary increase of 3 or 4 percent of the total base, 2) a flexible program maintenance amount (25, 35 or 50 percent of the contract amount that can be used for either existing non-C4E programs or cost increases of existing C4E programs, and 3) a restricted contract amount set aside for new or expanded programs. For the 2008-09 program this restricted amount (outside of NYC) ranges from only 16 to 49 percent. Figure 1 shows how the dollars grow over time if districts continue to be subject to C4E requirements. It shows:
- The unrestricted Foundation Aid base
- The amount that must be continued in future years to maintain district effort (i.e., restricted Foundation Aid base)
- The unrestricted aid increase (3 or 4 percent over the base)
- The flexible amount (25, 35 or 50 percent of the increase) and
- The amount for new or expanded programs.
For purposes of Figure 1 the unrestricted aid increase is fixed at 3 percent and the flexible amount is fixed at 25 percent.
Misconception 4: That districts can’t continue effective programs in C4E allowable program areas begun before C4E.
Fact: Districts will continue to receive inflation-adjusted base year Foundation Aid to continue funding effective programs that existed before C4E. This three or four percent over base-year Foundation Aid represents a large percent of the Foundation Aid increase, as much as 30 or 40 percent. Districts can use this unrestricted aid increase to help fund programs begin before C4E. Or, they can use their flexibility increase for maintenance of allowable programs to continue programs funded by the district in the previous year. Finally, districts can allocate C4E funds restricted for new or expanded programs for expenses to expand these programs (but not for inflationary cost increases).
20. How does NYSED determine the dollar amount that C4E districts must use for new or expanded programs?
The amount of Foundation Aid that is restricted for new or expanded allowable programs is the district’s Foundation Aid increase over the prior year less an inflationary adjustment, increased payments to charter schools, and a flexible percentage allowed for maintenance of existing programs. The law also includes an amount allowed for experimental programs if approved by the Commissioner. In addition, each existing C4E district must maintain 100 percent of the amount approved by the Commissioner in the base year. However, districts are allowed to redesign programs by decreasing allotments to 2007-08 C4E programs, provided they make additional equivalent allotments of Foundation Aid under the current year Contract. In other words, if a district chooses to reduce any of the base year program expenditures in the current year, they must add an equivalent amount of unrestricted funds to the current year Contract and must allocate that additional amount to other new or expanded allowable programs.
Maintenance of Effort Example
If a district spent $160,000 on equipment in 2007-08 and doesn’t plan to spend this again in 2008-09, $160,000 must be added to the district’s 2008-09 Contract Amount for allocation to new or expanded programs. Likewise a district can change its plan and spend money in different ways. For example if a district spent $500,000 on teacher and principal quality initiatives in 2007-08 and decides to invest that money in another allowable program in 2008-09, it will add the $500,000 to the Contract Amount for 2008-09, and reallocate it to new or expanded programs. The following are examples of a Contract for Excellence calculation for a large city district and another typical district:
21. How will districts file C4E’s?
A: Every district required to complete a C4E must submit to the Department a contract on a form prescribed by the Commissioner and consistent with Commissioner’s regulations. The Department has developed a straightforward and streamlined web-based system for districts to file contracts. The system requires the Superintendent of Schools or his or her designee to complete the C4E.
22. Will the Department publish examples of best practices that districts have used to improve student achievement?
A: Yes, current information regarding best practices are posted on the C4E web site (www.emsc.nysed.gov/mgtserv/C4E) and will continue to be updated.
23. Can a district return a portion of its Foundation Aid increase to the State and in that way, avoid the C4E requirement? For example, a district with one school in need of improvement receives a 10.4 percent increase in aid. Could the district return .5 percent of the aid to and not complete a C4E?
A: No. There is no provision in law to allow this.
24. What if one of my schools is currently identified as requiring academic progress, in need of improvement, in corrective action, or in restructuring, but changes its accountability status before the start of school?
A: The law specifies that districts will be assessed based on accountability data available on April 1 of the base year (the school year immediately preceding the school year for which a contract is required).
25. Are there provisions for exempting districts which made adequate yearly progress last year (2006-07) but need one more year to get off the list of schools in need of improvement?
A: No, for the reasons set forth above. However, districts will be able to present achievement gains as supporting evidence in their contracts.
26. Will I be asked to provide academic indicators on my C4E? If yes, why?
A: Yes. You will be asked to provide certain baseline data to measure the area you are expanding for the base year and projected (2008-09) year. For example, if you choose class size reduction, you must state the class size for the targeted students in 2007-08 (e.g., 26) and the planned class size for 2008-09 (e.g., 22). You will be asked to identify performance targets for groups of students where you expect to see improvement as a result of the use of C4E funds. You will also be asked to identify research and have an evaluation plan if you choose the experimental option for up to 15 percent of your contract amount. A major direction of C4E is to connect resources to achievement. The goals of this accountability effort are to tell the public where the money is spent, to demonstrate the money was spent on programs that have a track record of contributing to student achievement growth, and to actually demonstrate that the money resulted in increased learning.
A: Approval will be given to contracts demonstrating to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the allowable programs selected by the district: (1) predominately benefit those students with the greatest educational needs, including but not limited to: (a) students with limited English proficiency and students who are English language learners; (b) students in poverty; (c) students with disabilities and (d) students with low academic achievement; (2) predominately benefit those students in schools identified as requiring academic progress (year 1 or above), or in need of improvement (year 1) or in corrective action, or restructuring and address the most serious academic problems in those schools; and (3) are based on practices supported by research or other comparable evidence in order to facilitate student attainment of State learning standards. (4) are based on programs proven to address the specific needs of the district’s most needy students.
28. How will compliance or lack of compliance with a C4E be determined?
A: Compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements will be determined by Department review and Commissioner approval and independent auditor certification that school districts have used contract funds to supplement and not supplant existing district effort. In addition, the law requires qualifying school districts to ensure that procedures are in place by which parents or persons in parental relation may bring complaints concerning implementation of the district's Contract for Excellence, including procedures for filing complaints and for appeals to the board of education, or, in the New York City school district, to its Chancellor. The law further provides that the board’s or Chancellor's determination may be appealed to the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Education Law section 310. The Department has provided guidance for on-site monitoring of school district Contracts for Excellence at www.emsc.nysed.gov/mgtserv/C4E .
29. If the Department determines that a C4E is not acceptable, what happens?
A: The Department will provide detailed guidance to the affected school district explaining why the contract does not meet requirements and what aspects the district can amend to gain approval. Department staff is on-hand to answer questions and offer advice to impacted districts as they develop their C4Es. Districts will be required to correct any deficiencies before a contract is approved and State Aid is released. Allowable Programs and Expenses (General)
30. How may C4E districts use their Contract amount?
A: The law specifies six categories of allowable programs and activities:
- class size reduction;
- increased time on task;
- teacher and principal quality initiatives;
- middle and high school restructuring;
- full-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten; and
- model programs for English language learners. With approval by the Commissioner, districts may spend up to 15 percent of the contract amount on other “experimental” programs to improve student achievement.
31. Can a district implement a program that is aligned with research and best practices but not one of the allowable programs?
A: Yes. The Department strongly encourages partnerships with institutions of higher education in the development and evaluation of experimental programs. Experimental programs must have a research and theoretical basis and include an evaluation plan reporting empirical evidence to assess the impact of the program on student achievement. In all cases, districts must also ensure that the new or expanded programs shall predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs including, but not limited to, students with limited English proficiency or who are English language learners, students in poverty, students with disabilities and students with low academic achievement. Any or all of these programs can be the focus of a district’s C4E. The restricted portion of the district’s Contract Amount cannot supplant but rather, must supplement current funding. Foundation Aid not subject to the contract may be used for any legal purpose.
32. Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2007 identified a number of allowable programs and activities that districts can implement to comply with the C4E requirement. Can a district anticipate that its C4E will be approved as long as it includes any or all of these?
A: Not necessarily. The purpose of the law and regulation is to improve student achievement, and predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools. Therefore, any spending of C4E dollars must come with a high expectation and likelihood that these goals will be achieved. The Department recommends that school districts plan their C4E expenditures with regard to three issues: 1. Are the planned programs and activities likely to address the most significant student achievement needs of schools in the district, particularly those in improvement status?
2. Will the programs improve the achievement of the district’s lowest performing students? 3. Will expenditures predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and schools with concentrations of such students?
4. Will the expenditures supplement and not supplant existing district effort?
33. Is buying computer hardware considered an allowable C4E expenditure? If so, is it the total amount or only the increase from the previous year?
A: That depends. In certain cases the purchase of computer hardware may be allowable. Total technology expenses are allowable C4E expenditures if they are an incidental component of one of the six allowable programs and activities, or an approved experimental program, and if the district can make a case that it would improve student achievement, predominately benefit students in low performing schools and students with the greatest educational needs, and supplement but not supplant current district effort. Funds for new or expanded programs can only be used for new equipment purchases and only for expenditures that are not otherwise aidable.
34. Are music and art programs allowable expenses for C4E programs? If yes, which ones?
A: Yes, music and art are required subjects for all students as specified in Part 100 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The importance of the arts was reinforced by the Board of Regents when it adopted the Learning Standards for the Arts (dance, music, theatre, visual arts) as part of a comprehensive education embodied in the State’s 28 learning standards.
The arts play a significant role in education both for their intrinsic value and for the ways in which they enhance general academic achievement and improve students' social, emotional and physical development. Abilities in music and art often translate into increased ability in mathematics, reading, science, social studies and other subjects. They can be instrumental in engaging students to learn in a variety of curricular areas. Music and art programs are appropriate for increased time on task, class size reduction, middle school-high school restructuring and programs for English language learners.
35. Is spending on gifted and talented programs an allowable C4E expenditure?
A. That depends. Spending on gifted and talented is allowable as long as it includes targeting to one of the special student populations, such as students from poverty. It shouldn’t be done at the expense of students with achievement issues, but small programs in C4E allowable program areas that are tied to need and opportunity will be favorably considered.
36. Can C4E districts use their Contract Amount to support career and technical education?
A: Yes. Since career and technical education is an attractive alternative for many students that have not been successful in traditional academic schools, this can be an effective way for school districts to raise achievement scores and increase graduation rates. This can be part of strengthening instruction when doing middle school or high school restructuring. It could also be advanced as part of efforts to increase student time on task.
37. In our district we do not have librarians in all buildings. We would propose to use some of the funding under the Contract to be able to staff each of the buildings’ libraries, as well as give professional development to librarians to help them develop instructional strategies to reinforce and/or teach reading. Where would this fall under the C4E?
A: In order for this to be an allowable expense, the district would have to make a compelling case that it relates to one of the six allowable programs and activities or an approved experimental program and will improve student achievement in the district. The additional library media specialists must be used predominantly for students in low performing schools and students with the greatest educational need, and supplement and not supplant existing district effort. These programs could be used to increase student time on task for students with the greatest educational needs.
38. If new programs are being added to support increased academic rigor, can those costs be offset by Foundation Aid?
A: That depends. The school district must make a compelling case that these programs would increase student time on task or restructure middle or high schools to improve student achievement and would predominately benefit students in low performing schools and students with the greatest educational needs. Associated training might also be deemed a teacher and/or principal quality initiative.
39. Could student fees be included?
A: Yes, if covering such fees was necessary to ensure program viability, if the programs will improve student achievement and predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils, and provided the Foundation Aid would supplement and not supplant district effort.
40. What are the class size reduction numbers for New York City as defined by the Commissioner?
A: The Commissioner will appoint an expert panel later this year and charge it to conduct a review of existing class size research and make a recommendation to the Commissioner. The Commissioner, after consideration of the recommendation, will prescribe prekindergarten through grade 12 class size targets for school years 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-1011 and 2011-2012. For the 2008-2009 school year, New York City will base its class size targets on its own plan for class size reduction.
41. Does increasing after school programs qualify as increased time on task (promoting student engagement to improve performance)?
A: Yes, if the district implements the program to improve student achievement, will predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils and will not supplant existing district effort.
42. Lengthened school day and year. The Department's previously issued guidance only specifically mentions middle and high school. Would this exclude programs implemented at the elementary school?
A: The intent is to allow increased time on task activities at the elementary level as well provided the program/activity will improve student achievement and predominately benefit students with the greatest educational need and students attending low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
43. Could we include transportation for an extended day/year programs?
A: Yes. Additional transportation costs related to an allowable activity or program may be included as part of the contract for the local share or portion of expense not otherwise aided.
44. Increased Time On Task, Lengthened School Year. Example: Our district would like to offer a readiness program for incoming Kindergarten children. Will this be permissible?
A: Yes, if this can be implemented to improve student achievement through increased time on task or extended school day, and predominantly benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students attending low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
45. Would music and art programs qualify as allowable expenses for increased time on task?
A: Yes. Music and art programs have been found to increase student achievement in mathematics and reading and can be an effective means for increasing student time on task. See question 34 for related information.
46. A district would like to offer summer programming for children in primary grades for reading, math, and literacy development useful in communication (speech, basic technology, other). Is this permissible?
A: Yes, it would be permissible under more time on task if it supplements the existing program and predominantly benefits students with the greatest educational needs and students attending low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
47. Will the Department be setting benchmarks for length of school day/Length of school year?
A: No. There will not be specific benchmarks, but schools will be required to justify the extended time based on research. Districts may want to look at a significant increase in instructional time, such as, a phase-in to a 200-day school year.
Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten and kindergarten
48. Can Universal Preschool (UPK) dollars be counted as meeting C4E provisions or spending requirements?
A: No. UPK dollars are a separate categorical aid intended only for the purpose of providing pre-k services.
49. Can C4E funds be used to increase current 1/2 day programs to full day and then be considered new programming?
A: Yes. Foundation Aid can be used to fund expansion of half-day to full-day pre-kindergarten or kindergarten. The district will need to show how this expansion will predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and supplement and not supplant existing district effort.
50. We receive UPK funding in our district. We use approved community sites for the district's UPK sites. These locations are monitored by the district. Would it be allowable under C4E to use funding for transportation for some of our children who are unable to provide their own? We have excellent participation for our families with four year-olds but the district knows that some of the population that we would like to have served is unable to provide transportation to the site and therefore cannot take advantage of the program. The question is, "Can transportation be funded for our UPK programs under the C4E if the UPK sites are community sites, rather than district sites?"
A: Yes. It may be possible for a district to fund UPK transportation if that is determined to be an effective means of improving student achievement in the district, is associated with an allowable program or activity, is a new or expanded effort, and is targeted to students with the greatest educational needs.
51. If the district fills teaching vacancies with teachers that have more credited years of teaching experience or other indicators of quality, is it permissible to use this aid to make up the salary differential?
A: Yes. If the additional teachers are to fill vacancies to teach in low-performing schools and in schools in which students with the greatest educational needs will predominately benefit, C4E dollars can be used as an incentive within the district to fill vacancies in such schools. The district would be enhancing the quality of the teaching workforce by ensuring that the most highly qualified teachers benefit students with the greatest educational needs. Districts interested in doing this should consult with their school attorney regarding the impact any applicable provisions of their collective bargaining agreement may have on their ability to take such actions.
52. Is it permissible to add a new position, Director of Staff Development, which would be able to work with teachers in the district on an on-going basis to improve instructional practice?
A: Yes. This expenditure could be deemed a teacher quality initiative. Research clearly demonstrates professional development of teachers is a cornerstone to student success. Enhancing that element of a school district’s program in a manner that would improve student achievement would be an acceptable use of C4E money, provided that the Director’s time predominantly benefits students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
53. Suppose a district has no instructional coaching or mentoring capacity in social studies and has limited capacity in the other core subject areas. Would a facilitator or specialist in social studies be approved as is already the case for reading, math and science?
A: Yes. Coaches are allowed in subject areas necessary to meet state learning standards provided they predominantly benefits students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
54. The district is looking to broaden and expand its professional development program to incorporate required training for beginning teachers. Is it correct to assume that a “beginning teacher” would be one that is probationary?
A: Yes. A beginning teacher is one that is probationary. The regulations also allow mentoring for teachers who are not newly appointed, consistent with collective bargaining agreements. Such programs should predominantly benefits students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
55. If a new Alternative School Program will be added to better meet the needs of at-risk secondary students, in addition to hiring certified content area teachers, is it permissible to add administrative support to manage this “school within a school?”
A: Yes. Such a change would likely fall under the teacher/principal quality or middle/high school restructuring rubric. The district would need to demonstrate how this structure would improve student achievement and predominately benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils. The district would also need to demonstrate that any administrative support represents an addition to the district's capacity versus a transfer of an administrative line that previously serviced a program that has been reduced in size or eliminated.
56. If the district supports sending additional students to high quality career and technical education programs at BOCES, is it permissible to cover the local share of these costs through Foundation Aid?
A: Yes. New or expanded BOCES programs may be allowable as part of middle/high school restructuring provided the programs improve student achievement and predominantly benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
57. In looking at restructuring at the middle school level, for example, if a district developed a new scheduling model that provided for increased instructional time in math and English and added new reading teachers to support literacy at the 6th, 7th and 8th grade, is it permissible to also include additional staff in other areas needed to make the schedule work? This might include the addition of technology, health and music teachers. Additions in these special content areas would allow an integrated approach to literacy across content areas as outlined in the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle Schools.
A: Yes, provided that the district can identify how the changes would successfully improve student achievement and predominantly benefit students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils.
58. The district has a poverty level approaching 40 percent. Is the hiring of a social worker at the elementary level and or a district-wide psychology intern acceptable to work with many families that are struggling?
A: Yes, if it can be related to one of the allowable programs and activities, or gain approval from the Department as an experimental program that will predominately benefit students with the greatest educational need and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils. Parental involvement is mentioned in two allowable programs: full-day Pre-k and Kindergarten and middle/high school restructuring. The Department supports the use of parental involvement in elementary programs provided this is targeted to low-performing schools and students with the greatest educational needs. To the extent a district can enhance that involvement and improve student achievement at any level, the expense would be permissible.
59. What are the options for serving students who are limited English proficient, under the new C4E program, Model Programs for students with Limited English Proficiency?
A: The emergency regulations that were adopted by the Board of Regents, effective May 20, 2008, include several types of innovative programs and supports for serving students with limited English proficiency. Program options range from explicit vocabulary instruction to addressing the learning needs of students with interrupted formal education to strategies for bilingual teacher development and recruitment. The allowable options are:
- Native Language Support
- Professional Development and Curriculum
- Extended Day Support
- Parental Involvement
- Programs for New Immigrants
- Other Programs for LEP/ELLs
- Recruitment and Retention of Bilingual and ESL Teachers
60. Does the allowable program for serving English Language Learners (ELL) mean that these students should not be served in other C4E programs?
A: No. Conversely, the regulations adopted specifically state that none of the ELL model programs listed should be construed to limit participation of ELLs in other allowable C4E programs intended to predominately benefit English language learners, students with disabilities, students from poverty backgrounds, or students with low achievement.
61. Where can I find additional information on implementing model programs for English language learners, such as laws and regulations, research, descriptions of model programs and other resources?
A: Guidance on Model Programs for English Language Learners can be found on the C4E website: www.emsc.nysed.gov/mgtserv/C4E.
62. Can Title IIA professional salary and benefit expenditures be moved to general fund expenditures as C4E new program allowances, thus allowing Title IIA funds to be used for other allowable expenditures?
A: No. If this means can a district pay for expenditures paid for in 2006-07 out of Title IIA funds with Foundation Aid in 2007-08 under the C4E, this is not approved since it would be supplanting district effort.
63. If salaries/positions will be eliminated due to grants that are ending "permanently" and only district funds could be utilized to maintain them, would the Department consider these as new programs for Class Size Reduction, Increased Time on Task, Teacher and Principal Quality Initiatives, Middle School and High School Restructuring that could be funded with C4E funds?
A: Yes. If a contract ends, C4E funds could be used to continue to fund the program provided it otherwise met C4E requirements. It is not considered supplanting if the activity was funded with categorical funding that is discontinued.
64. Can districts use Contract funds to replace Federal funds that have ceased or been reduced?
A. Yes. If a service or program in the base year that was not otherwise going to be provided in the current year because the grant or other source of revenue was reduced or eliminated due to actions beyond the control of the Board of Education, then Contract for Excellence funds could be used to continue that service in the current year.
65. Can districts use contract funds for expenditures that generate other aids (eg. BOCES Aid, Transportation Aid, Instructional Computer Hardware Aid, etc.)?
A. Yes. Districts can use contract funds for the amount of the local share and for expenditures that are not otherwise reimbursed. For new programs that will generate aid in the next year, 100 percent of appropriate expenditures can be charged to C4E funds.
66. Can districts use contract funds to continue activities previously funded by grants that are now part of Foundation Aid?
A. No. Since Grants folded into Foundation Aid base, using the increase restricted for new or expanded programs to pay for these activities would be considered supplanting.
67. What is the maintenance of effort requirement for 2008-09?
A. Each 2008-09 Contract for a school district that prepared a C4E last year shall provide for the expenditure of an amount equal to that approved by the commissioner in the district’s prior year contract. Such amount shall be expended to support and maintain programs and activities approved in the base year or to support new or expanded programs and activities in the current year.
68. Can districts change 2007-08 C4E programs in 2008-09?
A. Yes. Districts can change but they must maintain their effort within the six allowable program areas.
69. What happens if a district made an approved expense in 2007-08 that will not reoccur in 2008-09?
A. The amount of the non-recurring expense must be spent on a new or expanded activity from one of the allowable programs.
70. Can school districts change their C4E budgets after the Commissioner approves it? If yes, what is the process?
A: Yes with Commissioner’s approval. The process is the same at the district level as any budget transfer. In terms of Department approval, districts should send an e-mail to EMSCMGTS@MAIL.NYSED.GOV requesting approval for amendments to an approved C4E. Instructions and forms for amending Contracts for Excellence can be found at www.emsc.nysed.gov/mgtserv/C4E.
71. Given that state aid figures can change for a school district, will the list of C4E school districts for 2008-09 change as well?
A: No. The State Education Department will hold districts to C4E requirements based on data available on April 23, 2008, the effective date of the statute.
72. In order to use all the new State Aid, will districts be forced to spend more than already in their budgets?
A: No. Districts may not spend more than the budget authorized by the voters or the contingent budget adopted by the board of education. School districts can increase their budgets for unforeseen ordinary contingent expenses consistent with the requirements of Education Law section 1718. Department staff will work with school administrators to ensure that they are aware of all the ways they may use C4E funds.
73. My budget was approved by the voters in May. My contract will be submitted in July and approved in August. If my contract requires me to spend additional money for new or expanded programs beyond what the voters approved, am I allowed to increase my budget?
A: No. The Department has consistently communicated the need for school districts to budget C4E expenditures in 2008-09 budgets presented to the voters, and districts are expected to make every effort to contain spending within available revenues. However, school districts may increase their budgets for unforeseen ordinary contingent expenses consistent with the requirements of Education Law section 1718.
74. What happens if a district subject to C4E requirements is required to adopt a contingency budget? Will the district be permitted to spend the funds subject to C4E requirements?
A: Yes. The law provides that increases in Foundation Aid are to be deemed grants in aid and thus would be exempt from contingency budget limitations for all districts operating under a contingent budget.
75. Can any of the funds be used for approved school district summer school programs?
A: Yes, provided that the program is new or expanded, predominantly benefits students with the greatest educational needs and students in low-performing schools with concentrations of such pupils. Districts should contact the Department prior to spending any funds.
76. Will the 2007-08 and 2008-09 expenditures become baseline for future years?
A: Yes, 2007-08 expenditures and metrics will become baseline expenditures and metrics for 2008-09, as will the 2008-09 in the next year.
77. Is the three or four percent inflation factor (i.e. a district’s Foundation Aid increase in excess of 103 or 104 percent of base year funding) based upon the 2007-08 Foundation Aid or the 2008-09 Foundation Aid?
A: The three or four percent inflation factor is applied to the 2007-08 (base year) Foundation Aid amount.
78. Are school district external auditors aware of the auditing requirement for C4E districts? Have there been discussions with the auditors regarding the process and their roles?
A: Yes, auditors are aware of the auditing requirements. The State Education Department has shared with the Certified Public Accountant School Advisory Group the regulations and guidance material and a certification statement for auditors to complete to ensure understanding and compliance.
79. What will independent auditors certify for Contracts for Excellence?
A: Independent auditors will certify that Contract districts have accounting procedures in place to track new and continued C4E expenditures by program at the school level. They will verify original receipts, purchase orders or Board of Education documentation for a sample of C4E expenditures. Beginning in the second year, Independent Auditors must certify that the district used the amount for new or expanded programs to supplement district effort.
80. How will districts calculate, or know, the amount of payments to charter schools that can be deducted from the calculation to determine the appropriate amount of C4E expense for new or expanded programs?
A: If districts have charter schools they will be allowed to subtract the projected charter school tuition increase for 2008-09 (as shown in your approved or contingency budget) from the final Contract amount. This amount is not subject to Contract for Excellence requirements. There will be an entry on the C4E application for this deduct.