Adopted Amendment to 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 Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program (PDF)
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 an amendment to 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 amendment revises procedures for the administration of awards for the prekindergarten program.
Texas Education Code (TEC), §29.155.
June 26, 2011.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND SIGNIFICANT ISSUES:
The TEC, Chapter 29, Subchapter E, establishes a grant program that provides funding to districts interested in improving or expanding prekindergarten programs. The TEC, §29.155(e), authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules to administer the prekindergarten grant award program. Through 19 TAC §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program, adopted to be effective April 2, 2009, the commissioner exercised rulemaking authority to establish procedures for the program's administration.
The adopted amendment to 19 TAC §102.1002 revises procedures for the prekindergarten grant award program by updating provisions relating to definitions, including changes to the definitions for Tier 1 and Tier 2 grantees and deletion of the Tier 3 grantee definition; eligibility criteria; funding allocations and continuation funding, including removal of Tier 3 funding; exemptions; and technical assistance. The adopted revisions will be implemented beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.
The following technical corrections were made at adoption.
To remove redundancy, subsection (e)(1) and (2) were modified to remove the phrase "as determined annually in the grant application" since subsection (e) already specifies that funding allocation methods are determined annually by the commissioner in the grant application.
For clarity and consistency throughout the rule, subsection (i) was modified to substitute the phrase "subsequent funding" with "continuation funding."
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has determined that there are fiscal implications for eligible school districts and open-enrollment charter schools as a result of the adopted amendment. There are no fiscal implications for the state or individuals.
The adopted amendment creates a funding structure from funds appropriated for the program beginning with the 2011-2012 school year (fiscal year 2012) for two categories of applicants. However, funding is contingent on appropriations made by the legislature for this purpose.
The adopted amendment may result in a redistribution of funds to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools, but the total distribution will not increase or decrease. Funds will continue to be distributed by the commissioner on a competitive and 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.
The TEA has determined that 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 amendment significantly expands the number of districts eligible to receive grant funding. The public would realize the benefit of increasingly improved school readiness programs for prekindergarten eligible children, thereby promoting individual student success and a more highly educated and prepared workforce.
PROCEDURAL AND REPORTING IMPLICATIONS:
The adopted amendment updates procedures for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to follow to apply for initial and continuation funding under the Prekindergarten Early Start (PKES) Grant Program. Grantees must continue to agree to submit all information, application materials, and reports required by the agency.
LOCALLY MAINTAINED PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS:
The adopted amendment has no new locally maintained paperwork requirements.
The public comment period on the proposal began December 10, 2010, and ended January 10, 2011. Following is a summary of public comments received and corresponding agency responses regarding the proposed amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 102, Educational Programs, Subchapter AA, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Early Childhood Education Programs, §102.1002, Prekindergarten Early Start Grant Program.
Comment: An administrator and several prekindergarten teachers from Elkhart Independent School District (ISD) expressed concern that the district would not be eligible to apply for funds when its current grant cycle ends on August 31, 2012. The commenters noted that the district's Grade 3 assessment scores were above the state average.
Agency Response: The agency provides the following clarification. Subsection (e)(1)(B) states that if funds remain after awards are made to qualifying district applicants with substantially below average Grade 3 assessment scores (three-year district averaged), qualifying district applicants with at or above state average Grade 3 assessment scores (three-year district averaged) may be awarded PKES funds.
Comment: Newcastle ISD and an administrator from Arlington ISD expressed concern that the proposed amendment would change their current and continuation funding for the PKES Cycle 1 Grant.
Agency Response: The agency disagrees. The amendment to the commissioner's rule for the PKES Grant Program will not change existing continuation grants. Although, all PKES grant funding is dependent on legislative appropriation.
Comment: An administrator from Harlandale ISD expressed concern that the rule did not allow for increased funding for continuation grants so that districts could serve increased numbers of prekindergarten students.
Agency Response: The comment addresses an issue outside the scope of the current rule proposal. The commissioner's rule does not establish levels of continuation funding. Subsection (e) specifies that funding allocation methods are determined in the grant application. However, all PKES grant funding is dependent on legislative appropriation.
Comment: An administrator from Chapel Hill ISD expressed concern that the rule would not allow districts to continue funding full-day prekindergarten.
Agency Response: The agency disagrees. Subsection (f)(1) allows for funds to be expended for the operation of a full-day prekindergarten program. No changes to this subsection were included in the amendment. However, all PKES grant funding is dependent on legislative appropriation.
Comment: An administrator from Austin ISD expressed appreciation for the positive changes to the rule. The administrator also expressed concern that the rule continues to base the PKES grant on the Grade 3 assessment instrument, which creates a potential "yo-yo effect" on schools and the students they serve.
Agency Response: The agency provides the following clarification. The TEC, §29.155, Kindergarten and Prekindergarten Grants, states that in awarding grants, priority shall be given to districts in which the level of performance of students on the assessment instruments administered in Grade 3 is substantially below the state average.
OTHER COMMENTS AND RELATED ISSUES:
Staff Members Responsible:
Gina S. Day, Deputy Associate Commissioner, School Readiness and Partnerships
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