Adopted New 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program
I. Statutory Citations (PDF)
II. Text of Adopted New 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program (PDF)
III. Summary of Public Comments and Agency Responses
The rule action presented in this item will be filed as adopted with the Texas Register under the commissioner's rulemaking authority. This item adopts new 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program. The adopted new rule implements the Texas Education Code (TEC), §29.155, that authorizes the commissioner of education to establish procedures and adopt rules for the administration of grant awards for kindergarten and prekindergarten programs.
April 2, 2009.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND SIGNIFICANT ISSUES:
The 76th Texas Legislature established a grant program that provides funding to districts interested in implementing or expanding their prekindergarten program. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has administered prekindergarten grant awards in accordance with the TEC, Chapter 29, Subchapter E, since 1999. The TEC, §29.155, authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules to administer kindergarten and prekindergarten grants. The TEC, §29.1533, requires a school district, before establishing a new prekindergarten program, to consider the possibility of sharing use of an existing Head Start or other child care program site as a prekindergarten site.
The adopted new 19 TAC §102.1002 implements TEC, §29.155, by establishing in rule new procedural and reporting requirements for prekindergarten grants to school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and education service centers operating as the fiscal agent of a shared services arrangement. The adopted new rule includes provisions to define applicable words and terms; sets forth requirements for eligibility, application, and notification; establishes details relating to funding, including required percentage distributions, allowable and unallowable expenditures, and subsequent funding; provides conditions of operation; and addresses exemptions, technical assistance, evaluation, revocation, and recovery of funds. The adoption also stipulates that the funding structure will be implemented beginning with the 2009-2010 school year.
In response to public comments on proposed new 19 TAC §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program, the following changes were made at adoption.
Subsection (a), relating to definitions, was modified to state more clearly the eligibility requirements for the three tiers of funding. Language in paragraph (16) was rearranged to clarify that a Tier 1 applicant is eligible if its Grade 3 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) performance averaged for the last three consecutive years is substantially below the state average over this same time period. Language in paragraph (17) was rearranged to clarify that a Tier 2 applicant is eligible if its Grade 3 TAKS performance averaged for the last three consecutive years is above the state average in both reading and mathematics over this same time period. Paragraph (17) was also modified to remove the requirement relating to school readiness components in subparagraph (B). Language in paragraph (18) was rearranged to clarify that a Tier 3 applicant is eligible if its Grade 3 TAKS performance averaged for the last three consecutive years is below the state average over this same time period. Grant programs operated under Tiers 2 and 3 will be phased out after each tier's initial cycle and all grants will eventually operate under Tier 1 criteria.
Subsection (e), relating to funding, was modified to add consideration of the percentage of educationally disadvantaged students served in a district.
Subsection (j), relating to exemptions, was modified in paragraph (3) to clarify that an exemption from the school readiness certification system extends to conditions of operation of the program.
The TEA has determined that there would be fiscal implications for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools as a result of the proposed new rule. There would be no fiscal implications for the state or individuals.
Increases or losses in revenue to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools would be affected by changes to the funding structure, and the impacts are unknown. Funds under the former grant program known as the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program have been distributed by the commissioner on a continuation grant basis to be used by schools for the purpose of providing grants for prekindergarten programs consistent with the provisions of the TEC, §29.155. Since 1999, funding allocations under the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program have been made only to local educational agencies that received grant funding in the previous year and have been based on the number of prekindergarten students, days of instruction, and percentage of attendance. Under the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program, Cycle 13, school year 2007-2008, 287 school districts and open-enrollment charter schools were awarded $84,726,160 in grant funds. During Cycle 14, school year 2008-2009, the same school districts and open-enrollment charter schools were awarded $85,879,287.
Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program grantees were required to apply for the same number of students as in the previous year and were permitted to apply for less funding than in the previous year; however, they were not permitted to apply for additional funding. In addition, grantees who received funds under the previous Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program were required to enter into partnership--a coordination of services agreement--with local Head Start and licensed child care programs and submit a School Readiness Integration Plan that was effective during the funding period.
The adopted new 19 TAC §102.1002 creates a funding structure for three categories of applicants. Percentages of funding, as determined annually, will be awarded proportionately using Tier 1-3 categories. Funding will be provided for a period not to exceed five years, based on annual accomplishment of grant objectives and requirements set forth in the application.
The adopted new rule allows the commissioner to make grants to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools from funds appropriated for the program beginning with the 2009-2010 school year (fiscal year 2010). For fiscal year 2010, the grant requires sharing use of an existing Head Start or child care program site as a prekindergarten site.
Funding for future years is contingent on appropriations made by the state legislature for this purpose. The adopted new rule for the Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program has the potential to impact current grantees that have been receiving funding since legislative establishment of the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant Program in 1999. Grant programs operated under Tiers 2 and 3 will be phased out after each tier's initial cycle and all grants will eventually operate under Tier 1 criteria. Under the adopted new rule, the highest percentage of this revenue source would be available through a competitive application process to a new group of grantees that have not participated in the program previously.
The TEA has determined there is no direct adverse economic impact for small businesses and microbusinesses; therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis, specified in Texas Government Code, §2006.002, is required.
PUBLIC AND STUDENT BENEFIT:
The adopted new rule implements school readiness integration, a prekindergarten service delivery model that requires administrative and instructional collaboration among public school prekindergarten, licensed child care, and Head Start programs. Grant funds allow districts to provide quality preschool services based on scientific research and student performance. Students will potentially benefit from being prepared to enter kindergarten on or above grade level. The public will realize the benefit of increasingly improved school readiness programs for prekindergarten eligible children through increased student success and a more highly educated and prepared workforce.
PROCEDURAL AND REPORTING IMPLICATIONS:
The adopted new rule provides guidelines and procedures for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to follow in order to apply for the Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program. Grantees must agree to submit all information, application materials, and reports required by the agency.
Applicants for the Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program will be required to provide details relating to grant eligibility as part of the Request for Application, in accordance with the TEC, §29.155, including needs-assessment data for eligible prekindergarten children in the service delivery area projected to be served with grant funds. In addition, applicants will be required to provide evidence of local partnership agreements for delivery of a mixed-service model among the applicant, Head Start program, and child care program providers.
Grantees under the Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program will be required to provide the TEA annual evaluations concerning student performance and program impact as a result of grant activities, as well as continuation eligibility data based on accomplished goals and objectives each year of the grant cycle.
LOCALLY MAINTAINED PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS:
Local school districts and open-enrollment charter schools will be required to maintain documentation of the following: (1) a community-wide needs assessment of eligible prekindergarten children in Head Start and subsidized child care programs; (2) a description of the structure of the early childhood instructional component, including student screening and assessment process and the number of instructional hours provided by certified teaching personnel; (3) a description of the partners or collaborators that have entered into a collaborative agreement to develop and carry out a school readiness integration plan; (4) a district plan for sustainability after grant funds cease; and (5) a description of the evaluation plan or design for monitoring the implementation of the program on an ongoing basis and for determining whether the program met its stated goals and objectives and achieved the desired results based on established performance indicators.
The public comment period began October 31, 2008, and ended December 1, 2008. In addition, a public hearing was held on November 13, 2008, in Austin, Texas, to receive public comment on the proposed new rule. A summary of the public comments received and corresponding agency responses regarding proposed new 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program, can be found in Attachment III.
OTHER COMMENTS AND RELATED ISSUES:
Staff Members Responsible:
Barbara Knaggs, Associate Commissioner, State Initiatives
Gina S. Day, Deputy Associate Commissioner, School Readiness and Partnerships
Lilie Elizondo-Limas, Director, School Readiness and Partnerships
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