5 Ways to Use Remaining Title Funds

Robert-Wayne Harris
Chief Learning Officer (CLO)
News on February 22 2021

5 Ways to Use Remaining Title Funds

As schools and districts actively engage in the annual budget planning process for the upcoming school year, many will find that they have unused Title funding allocations – Title I, Title IIA, Title III, and Title IV. Although this is not an uncommon phenomenon, it may be unusually glaring this year due to the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, schools and districts may discover that the Title funding allocations normally designated for instructional resources and support have gone largely untapped as they rapidly transitioned to remote and hybrid learning, leaving buildings void of both students and staff. Combine this with any additional funding received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 2020, and schools and districts may be challenged to expend all these funds within the given timeframes.

Teq would like to suggest five ways to think about any remaining Title funds, helping you to maximize instructional resources in order to support your innovative academic programs and services for students.

#1 Carry Over Title Funds

Fortunately, school leaders, district administrators, and funding coordinators are well aware of the project period for their Entitlement (Title) funding allocations, generally July 1st to June 30th. Of course, there are some exceptions such as the ability to carry over a percentage of Title I, Title II, Title III, and Title IV funding from one year to the next. Yet, most will seek to expend these funds prior to June 30th consistent with the closing of their school budgets. As we approach the “use it or potentially lose it” timeframe, many schools and districts will be seeking suitable and sound ways to allocate these resources in accordance with the funding requirements and guidelines. In the event that Title funds cannot be fully expended within a given school year, there are carryover options managed by the Department of Education in each state. In some cases, schools and districts are even allowed to transfer funds from one Title funding source into another Title program. Some information for carrying over Title funds is provided below. However, schools and districts should always consult with the Department of Education in their state for specific requirements and guidelines surrounding Title funding and the application process.

Title I, Part A Carryover Requirements

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Local Education Agency (LEA), school, or district can carry over 15% of the Title I, Part A allocation of at least $50,000, and 100% of the allocation for a LEA that receives less than $50,000. Schools and districts are also eligible to receive 100% of their carryover funds once every three years by applying for a waiver. Again, each state’s Department of Education has specific requirements and guidelines for applying for a waiver.

Title II, Part A Carryover Requirements

According to ESSA, the LEA can carry over 100% of the Title II, Part A allocation generally through an application process. Carryover activities are subject to the same allowability requirements as those in the original application. In addition to the carryover option, the LEA may also choose to transfer funds from Title IIA into another Title program to better address local needs. It is important to note that once the funds are transferred, they must be spent under the requirements applicable to that Title funding source.

Title III, Part A and Title IV Part A Carryover Requirements

Title III, Part A and Title IV Part A have very similar carryover requirements to Title II, Part A. In both cases, the LEA can carry over 100% of the Title allocations. However, Title III, Part A requires an approved plan in the year that the carryover is requested. Again, the Department of Education in each state will have specific requirements and guidelines for both the carryover and transfer of Title funding.

Resources for ESSA

#2 Go Back to Your Plan

So, how do you best put your Title funding to good use prior to the close of the school year or the sunset of the grants? Like any other school or district spending initiative, it is always more beneficial to have a well-thought-out plan detailing exactly how best to utilize funds, particularly given these educationally and fiscally challenging times. Schools and districts generally develop these plans consistent with the annual budget development process and Title funding applications deadlines. These plans are reviewed annually and are often updated and amended throughout the school year. In the development of these plans, it is important to ensure that the funding is used to supplement and not to supplant existing state or local funding sources. Questions to be asked in the planning of Title funding allocations and expenditures include:

  • What are the requirements of each Title fund and how are they aligned to school and/or district goals and expectations?
  • What populations are to be served under each Title funding allocation? Title I, Part A and Title III, Part A both have very specific requirements and guidelines for the populations served with these funding sources.
  • Are the programs and services to be covered with the Title funding required under federal, state, or local law?
  • How were these programs and services paid for in the past? If state or local funds were used in the past, then is considered supplanting and not supplementing.
  • Are we replicating services being paid for with state or local funds in another school(s) within the district? If so, then this is considered to be supplanting.
  • What private schools fall within your jurisdiction? Private schools must receive the opportunity to participate and receive an equitable share of the Title funding.

As a Superintendent of Schools, I would convene Quarterly Title Planning Meetings and consult with my Director of Grants and Funded Programs on an ongoing basis to ensure that the programs and services provided to our Title eligible schools and student populations aligned with the District plan and vision, did not supplant current state and local funding programs and initiatives, and addressed the requirements and guidelines for the appropriate allocation of our Title funds. Our state aid ratio, which influences Title funding allocations, was also an integral part of the discussions and planning process when developing our annual school budgets.

#3 Look at What Was Underfunded

The unprecedented events of the 2020-21 school year have required educators to make changes to the academic design and delivery of instructional programs, often rendering previous plans obsolete. Taking the unused or untapped Title funds into account, schools and districts should review programs that may have been underfunded when COVID-related purchasing became the priority.

In addition to resourcing these underfunded programs with Title monies, also ensure that consideration is given to the additional funds made available in the CARES Act, which provided approximately $13.5 billion to states under the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESS Fund) to be dispersed to LEAs. Through the combination of Title funding and CARES Act funds, schools and districts can purchase instructional resources, technology, and professional development that may have gone underfunded with the transition to remote and hybrid learning. Remember that these funds can only be used to supplement, and not to supplant, programs and services that were traditionally supported by state or local funding sources. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education CARES Act website.

#4 Add Innovative Programs and Technology

Instead of purchasing in-classroom technology, many schools logically switched their technology spend to provide Chromebooks to students and to support remote learning. Now is the time to think about the technology that will be needed when in-person instruction returns full-time. What successful technology practices have your teachers picked up during remote/hybrid instruction that you want to support in a “Return to Learn” plan next year? What professional development programs will be needed to support these efforts?

#5 STEM/STEAM and Enrichment Programs

When schools opened back in September 2020, the major focus was on covering core curriculum and subject areas. For many, STEM/STEAM and enrichment programs had to be put on pause as Makerspaces and hands-on projects became too challenging to safely implement. With the anticipated reopening of schools in September 2021, schools and districts should begin planning for these programs to return. Classroom technology may need to be tested and updated, new safety precautions established for Makerspaces and collaborative working environments, and professional development offered to teachers and others involved in the successful implementation of these programs. Utilizing the unused and untapped Title funding allocations is a great way to lay the foundation for the successful reopening of schools and to support those STEM/STEAM and College and Career readiness goals in the “Return to Learn” plan. For an example, remaining balances of Title funding can be used to purchase the following:

  • STEM/STEAM curriculum resources and instructional materials for disadvantaged students and LEP/ELLs
  • STEM/STEAM classroom technology resources such as 3D printers and interactive classroom displays
  • Professional development for teachers, instructional support staff, and administrators
  • Preparing today for tomorrow’s learning environments will ensure that schools and classrooms are ready for the successful return of students and the high levels of academic rigor and enriching activities to be to our greatest human resources.

    The unanticipated closing of schools due to the COVID-19 had far reaching implications. Not only was the traditional instructional program disrupted, but the budget and funding for those programs and services to students also impacted. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and schools and districts nationwide will most likely reopen for all students in the fall. Therefore, classrooms will require new and innovative technology and instructional resources that both support and maintain the integrity of the instructional program. Likewise, teachers, instructional support staff, and school leaders will require professional learning that will support “Return to Learn” plans currently being created. Ultimately, Title funding will be essential to the fulfillment of any new and/or revised educational goals and expectations.

    Title funding and the CARES Act 2020 allow for schools and districts to purchase the resources, materials, supplies, and training needed for a successful reopening. Funding allocations have been designed and designated for all learners, with an emphasis on the neediest and/or most challenged populations and environments. Utilizing their Title and CARES Act funding, schools and districts can hire Reading and Math Specialists and create academic support programs for students who may have fallen behind under these unusual circumstances. Likewise, these funding sources can be used to purchase curriculum and instructional materials, including STEM equipment and interactive classroom displays, that will enhance learning and performance.

    Last, but certainly not least, both funding streams allow for high-quality professional development and training to increase staff and program improvements for designated populations (viz., disadvantaged students and Limited English Proficient (LEP) and/or English Language Learners (ELLs)) to ensure the effective use of technology, technology devices, and blended and personalized learning.

    How Teq is Positioned to Help

    As a partner with schools and districts throughout the country, Teq has worked to create and provide innovative instructional strategies, tools, resources, and approaches for educators, making the most effective use of their Title funding.

    As an educational partner, we:

    • Identify technology appropriate for the grade level and the unique abilities of students and teachers.
    • Design technology solutions that provide students with opportunities for career exploration and enrichment through practical learning applications.
    • Implement project-based learning (PBL) activities and educational resources to support remote, hybrid, and in-class learning.
    • Create custom content lessons, and “instructional blocks” (iBlocks), based upon the Engineering Design Process that helps students understand how academic skills in the areas of STEM, English, and Social Studies have real-world applications.
    • Support schools with state and district-approved classroom-embedded, virtual and online professional development/learning to ensure effective implementation and integration of technology into instruction.
    • Provide a single, local source of technical support across over 30 different products and manufacturers.

    The ultimate goal is to assist schools and districts with the successful transition back to brick-and-mortar buildings, while maintaining the strategies and new instructional approaches garnered during remote and hybrid learning. By taking advantage of every resource allocation, such as Title funding, schools and districts can create dynamic classroom environments and engaging instructional experiences that will improve learning outcomes and opportunities for every student Pre-K to 12.

    Reach out to Teq via email at OTIS@teq.com, or call us at 877.455.9369.