Federal Funding for Private Schools

Robert-Wayne Harris
Chief Learning Officer (CLO)
News on June 17 2021

Did you know that as a private school, you are eligible for federal funding? Every year, the Federal Government allocates funding in the form of entitlement grants to public school districts, but many private schools are completely unaware that they, too, are entitled to these funds.

According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), section 8501(a)(3)(A) — amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) — Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are required to provide educational services and other benefits for private school students and staff, equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school students and staff. It is the responsibility of the LEA or public school district to communicate with the private school(s) within their jurisdiction to reach an agreement on how to provide equitable programs and services for their students.

Source: Statute from ESEA as amended through P.L. 114-95, enacted December 10, 2015 (ESSA) Section 8501 https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/legislation/index.html

How LEAs receive Entitlement Grant Funds

LEAs receive entitlement grant funds based on a formula that includes such factors as population, student enrollment, per capita income, or a specific need such as free/reduced lunch percentage. The entitlement grants include, but are not limited to:

  • Title I, Part A: Improving the Academic Achievement of Disadvantaged Students
  • Title II, Part A: Highly Qualified Teachers and Leaders
  • Title III, Part A: Enhancement and Achievement for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
  • Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Services
  • Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Special Education and related services to children with disabilities

Private School Funding and Title I, Part A

In order to meet the equitable services requirements, particularly as it pertains to Title I funding, the LEA must provide eligible private school children with equitable educational services in comparison to services and benefits for public school children participating under this part (including special educational services and other benefits), with expenditures equal to the proportion of funds allocated to participating school attendance areas based on the number of children from low-income families who attend private schools.

In addition to the above, the LEA must also provide timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate private school officials during the design and development of programs on issues such as:

  • How student needs will be identified
  • What services will be offered and by whom
  • How the services will be assessed and the results used to improve those services
  • The proportion of funds to be allocated for such services
  • The method or sources of data used to determine the number of children from low-income families in participating school attendance areas who attend private schools
  • How and when the delivery of services will be provided, including a thorough consideration and analysis of the views of the private school officials on the provision of services through a contract with potential third-party providers
  • How the LEA will provide in writing to such private school officials an analysis of the reasons why the local educational agency has chosen not to use a contractor

Source: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg2.html

Private School Funding and Title II, Part A

Under the Title II, Part A program, the LEA should consult and provide the private school officials with an opportunity for input into the planning of the LEA’s professional development program activities, along with proof that the needs of private and public school teachers were identified as part of an LEAs needs assessment.

Private School Funding and Title III, Part A

As is true of the other entitlement grants, private schools have a right to access Title III services from their LEA based on the number of recognized English Language learners in their school. Once the private school identifies their Limited English Proficiency and Immigrant student population, they should reach out to their LEA to begin the process of formally identifying these students. 

Private School Funding and Title IV, Part A

Title IV, Part A funding is subject to the equitability provisions of ESSA §8501. Like the other entitlement grants, if a LEA receives Title IV, Part A funding, a proportionate share of funds must be used to provide comparable opportunities for participation to private school students and educators. Similar to other entitlement grants, Title IV, Part A funds must be used to supplement, and not supplant, activities that participating schools would normally provide.

Private School Funding and IDEA 

Under statute at section 612(a)(10)(A) and in the regulations at 34 CFR §§300.130-300.144 the LEA is required to spend a proportionate amount of IDEA federal funds to provide equitable services to children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary, and secondary schools.

The formula for determining the proportionate share of the LEA’s sub-grant is based on the total number of eligible (not on the number served) parentally-placed children with disabilities aged three through 21 attending private schools located in the district in relation to the total number of eligible public and private school children with disabilities aged three through 21 in the LEA’s jurisdiction. LEA is also required to consult with private school representatives and representatives of parents of parentally-placed children with disabilities during the design and development of special education and related services for these children.

Source: https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/privateschools/idea.pdf

Always remember, if a LEA receives entitlement grant funding a proportionate share of the funds must be used to provide comparable opportunities for participation to private school students and educators. In advance of each school year, it is suggested that private schools consult with their LEA about the funding available to them and their students through the entitlement grants.

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