W.Va. Seeks Waivers of Stimulus Fund Regulations

August 10, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education is seeking waivers of federal regulations that dictate how counties can spend stimulus funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
West Virginia is one of several states asking permission from the U.S. Department of Education to relax requirements regarding how Local Education Authorities (LEAs) use Title I, Part A funds and Title I ARRA funds. The federal law requires LEAs that have Title I schools identified for improvement  to spend an amount equal to at least 20 percent of its 2009 Title I, Part A and ARRA allocation on transportation for public school choice and supplemental educational services. Schools with high numbers of disadvantage students qualify to receive Title I federal funds.
The West Virginia Department of Education is asking that LEAs in West Virginia be allowed to exclude some or all of the ARRA funds they receive under the stimulus package in calculating their 20 percent obligation for choice-related transportation and supplemental educational services.
West Virginia also is seeking a waiver of federal regulations preventing a state educational agency from granting LEAs a waiver of the 15 percent carryover limitation more than once every three years. West Virginia also is asking federal authorities to allow LEAs with one or more schools in improvement, corrective action or restructuring to offer supplemental educational services and school choice in Title I schools in the first year of school improvement. Current policy requires that supplemental educational services begin in the second year of improvement.
“We believe these waivers will increase the quality of instruction and improve student achievement by providing much needed flexibility,” said West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine. “The waivers will give LEAs more financial freedom to address important issues, such as improving math and reading achievement.”
In its request, West Virginia assured the U.S. Department of Education that it will use the funds freed up by the waiver to address needs identified based on data, including WESTEST2 results. Results of that statewide assessment are used to determine if schools made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
“These stimulus funds offer a rare opportunity to improve education,” Paine said. “The Obama Administration is urging states to be innovative and we are doing just that in West Virginia with our Global 21 plan, which adds rigor, relevance and 21st century skills to the curriculum.”
For more information, contact Jan Stanley, state Title I director, at (304) 558-7805, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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