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Texas School Ready!™ Project Grant - Frequently Asked Questions ...

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  • 1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Texas School Ready! Project Grant RFA Posted March 16, 2009 UPDATED: Monday, April 13, 2009 (Questions 34 – 44) Question 1. Why the name change from Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) School Readiness to Texas School Ready Project? With the Texas Education Agency restructuring Prekindergarten funding and redesigning the PreK Expansion program in an effort to develop new partnerships and reach districts who have never received PK funds, the Texas State Center for Early Childhood Development is also making changes to support the needs of communities across the state. With the development of the Texas School Readiness Certification System, TEEM has taken on a new look and feel. To make these components more comprehensive, the Texas School Ready! project has been developed. This project will help communities: o who haven’t received PKES funding to provide services o ensure continued quality across all partners, ISD, HS, and Child Care o develop new community partnerships The components are the same. What has been learned through the research from SB 76 and SB 23 has guided the state center to make some of these decisions for the Texas School Ready project. The efforts and intent of the project and its implementation remain the same: high quality professional development for teachers, cognitive and social preparedness of preschool children for Kindergarten, and effective integrated programs within communities working toward sustainable collaborations. Question 2. How do potential grantees prioritize partnerships? Though this will present some degree of challenge in responding to the RFA as many applicants will not know the outcomes of other grants, like the PKES program, note that proposed partnerships can be amended, if necessary, once awards have been announced. Make the following considerations in your response to the RFA:  Currently funded communities who are reapplying: o Continue to serve Year 2 and Year 3 teachers for completion of the project
  • 2. o Look for new opportunities to partner in recruiting Year 1 teachers o Try to develop a balanced integration of ISD, Head Start and child care providers.  New applicants who are applying: o All of your partnerships will be brand new. o Try to develop a balanced integration of ISD, Head Start and child care providers. Question 3. Will grantees be able to continue to draw down ADA dollars for partnerships that provide a certified teacher in child care centers? Yes. This planning should be a part of your sustainability and integration plan. Question 4. Can we use this grant to cover partnering opportunities not covered through the PKES grants? Yes, this can be a consideration for funding. In your description of the need in your community, explain why this may not show a balanced integration of 1/3 ISD, 1/3 Head Start and 1/3 child care providers. Question 5. Is the Letter of Understanding between partnership and ISD for data sharing (Page 37 of 53) really necessary to include due to the legislative mandate of SB 1871 that early reading screening data be collected and provided by districts for the Texas School Readiness Certification System? Yes. This will remind school districts of the mandate and commitments from those districts who do not use the TRPI/Tejas Lee screeners. Question 6. Are stand alone partnerships within the same building allowable? Yes. A partnership between Title 1 Prekindergarten and Head Start within the same building is allowable. However, this is not sufficient, and collaboration with child care providers in the community can only strengthen the community project and the application. Question 7. For communities who have situations where ISDs and Head Starts serve 4 year olds, will partnerships with child cares who serve the 3 year olds be considered integration? It will be important to describe in the application the need identified in the community and to articulate the integration plan. Question 8. Mileage wasn’t listed in the RFA. Will it be covered for mentoring? Yes. Mileage for TSR! Project field staff (Coordinators and Mentors) is an allowable, reimbursable expense. Other approved, allowable expenses will be reimbursed as well. These expenses will be set up on a purchase order for each funded grant and reimbursement will be
  • 3. made monthly to the grantee. Invoices for allowable, reimbursable expenses MUST be sent on a monthly basis to CLI. Question 9. Will classrooms not meeting the 51% 4 year olds be allowed for partnerships? Please explain in your application what the need is in your community and how 4 year olds are served. Question 10. What happens if a school or center who has committed to the project and is included in the application decides not to participate or becomes ineligible to participate? A revised MOU with the replacement school/center will need to be submitted. Anticipate this situation and have a “waiting” list of partners. Question 11. What are the 10 professional development sessions for Year 3 teachers? Project Management for the TSR! project is currently developing these classes and will provide awardees with all the information in the fall. These 10 classes will be 2 hour, face to face sessions with content and video support covering critical early childhood areas. The classes will be conducted in a format similar to the eCIRCLE online professional development classes teachers would have already participated in during the previous two years. Question 12. Can we partner across ESC lines? Yes. Question 13. Can there be any interaction and collaboration between TIER 1 grantees and TSR! grantees? Yes. Partnerships can be established between agencies as long as the individual centers/school are not supported through both funding streams. Question 14: Are TSR! grantees required to use the newly revised Texas Pre- kindergarten Guidelines (PKGs)? Yes. Districts must implement a pre-kindergarten systemfrom the state adopted instructional materials list. Curriculum and instruction must be aligned with the Texas PKGs. The PKGs are based on knowledge of theory and research about how children develop and learn; they reflect the growing consensus among early childhood professional organizations that a greater emphasis be placed on young children’s conceptual learning, acquisition of basic skills, and participation in meaningful and relevant learning experiences. The PKGs also delineate the content that children are to learn and what they should be able to achieve. It should be noted that the Texas Pre-kindergarten Guidelines are aligned with the kindergarten level Texas
  • 4. Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to facilitate appropriate transition from pre-kindergarten to kindergarten. Question 15: Are we required to implement the components of the TEEM approach? TSR! grantees are required to implement the Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) approach which includes the Texas School Readiness Certification System (SRCS). Question 16: On the RFA document, p.10 Sequence of Events – Critical Dates, it says the grant’s ending date of project is August 30, 2009. Is this accurate? No. This is a typo that has been corrected in the version of the RFA downloadable from the Children’s Learning Institute website. The Critical Date for the Ending Date of Project has been changed to reflect the following: August 31, 2010 Ending Date of project The Texas School Ready! Project RFA will be implemented during the 2009-2010 school year(s). Applicants should plan for a starting date of no earlier than September 1, 2009, and an ending date of no later than August 31, 2010. The Texas School Ready! grant program will be contingent upon funding being approved by the 81st Texas Legislative Session. The number of projects funded will depend on the number of applications for funding received and the amount awarded to applicants selected for funding. Question 17: Our district is eligible for the Tier 2 PKES grant and we have turned in our grant proposal. Could we apply for the Texas School Ready Grant as well? We have an excellent PK program that already works well with Head Start, but would like to expand the program. Yes. The grant is a competitive grant. All LEAs including education service centers, public school and open-enrollment charter schools, Head Start programs, child care programs (profit/non- profit; faith-and community-based organizations), and local workforce boards, and local colleges and universities are eligible to apply. Question 18: I did not read of a 1/3 child care, 1/3 Head Start, 1/3 ISD Title 1 Prekindergarten requirement in the RFA. Is this not required as a part of the new grant? Yes, grantees should seek integrated partnerships among Head Start, ISD Prekindergarten, and child care providers. A nice balance of eligible prekindergarten classrooms from partners
  • 5. should be the goal. If, however, a grantee does not have the potential for one type of partner or the other, the effort to establish this partnership should be addressed in the RFA. If the potential for one type of partner does not exist (i.e., there is not a Head Start or there are no licensed child care providers in the community in good standing with DFPS), this should be addressed in the proposal. Question 19: I read over the RFA for the Texas School Ready Project and I could not find how much funding we are applying for or are eligible to apply for. Lead agencies can apply for a number of classrooms to participate in the project through their partnerships between school districts, childcare providers and Head Start providers in the area. The state center manages all funds for this award. In other words, state center will manage the purchase of all materials needed, all licenses for teachers participating in professional development, etc. The cost worksheet on page 18 of the RFA should help you project the investment of grant funds into your community based on the number of classrooms projected in the application to participate in the project. If staff is needed within your organization to implement the project, the salary and fringe benefits for this/these individual(s) are reimbursed through monthly invoicing through state center. Question 20: Is there a specific day in May that the grant will be awarded? Yes. The review team plans to have all grants announced by May 27, 2009. Question 21: Do grant applicants need to be registered as to be part of the Texas School Readiness Certification System before the grant begins? No. If proposed schools are already a part of the certification system, that is fine. If proposed schools are not yet a part of the certification system, they can be added in the fall. Question 22: If I don’t have a partner and submit an SRI Exemption Request, does this make my application less competitive? There is no SRI Exemption Request associated with this application. If opportunities to partner with other organizations are limited, address this in the application. Question 23: Our ESC just provided CIRCLE training. Will we need to repeat the training if our teachers have already attended? No. However, new hires will have to be provided the training once the project begins.
  • 6. Question 24: If we have already purchased some of the required TEEM materials, do we need to purchase them again? No. If school ready materials have already been purchased, there is not a requirement to purchase these materials again. You will be asked to ensure that each participating classroom is equipped with the required materials through the Texas School Ready Online Monitoring System (TOMS). This will happen in the fall. Question 25: Can we serve other children who are not pre-keligible? The purpose of this grant is to serve pre-k eligible children. It may be necessary to serve non- eligible students at partner or satellite sites. You may serve other children who are not pre-K eligible but only children who are pre-k eligible as defined in the RFA may be counted for ADA purposes. Question 26: In completing the sustainability plan, is it reasonable to look at eligible sub- population program funds being directed toward the PK service model; such as requesting funds from Title 1, Bilingual, Sp. Ed., etc, as well as any funds that partners pledge to provide? Yes, as long as Pre-K services are an allowable use of those various funding sources in accordance with the corresponding authorizing program statutes and the approved applications for those funds. The Sustainability Plan should place e emphasis is on sustaining the school readiness components and continuing the SRI partnership. Question 27: Is there an SRI Exemption form within the application? No. Please address within the narrative of the proposal. Question 28: Is the Intent to Apply required? No. However, the Notice of Intent to Apply will aid the state center in planning and preparing for the review process. And, as there is no form to complete to fax or email ones intent, please provide the following in your response: Lead Agency Contact Name Title Address Telephone number Email address
  • 7. Fax number Note acknowledging intent to apply for the grant. Question 29: If there is already a partnership in place, can we use this partnership as it is for the grant partnership requirement? Yes, and an MOU with the partnering organization will be required. Question 30: How do we submit the Intent to Apply? There is no form included in the RFA. There is not a form included in the RFA to submit the Intent to Apply for the TSR! Project. An email to: Thomas.L.Waxley@uth.tmc.edu is sufficient. Please use the following format: In the Subject line, type: Intent to Apply: (Your Organization Name) In the body of the email: Lead Agency Contact Name Title Address Telephone number Email address Fax number Note acknowledging intent to apply for the grant. Question 31: Where can an applicant get an example of an SRI partnership? The Texas Education Agency has information about the School Readiness Integration plan available on their website. It is not the intent of the Texas School Ready! project, the CLI, or this application process to have applicants to use the forms on the TEA website to create their SRI plan. Our goal is to provide potential grantees with access to information to strengthen their application, their partnerships, and theirSRI plan. Use the information on the TEA website to help guide your thinking and planning and do not feel compelled to use the forms or format described. You can use these as models and samples for the plan you will submit. The following link should get you to the available information: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/opge/formfund/prek/index.html You can also access information from a new publication entitled Community-Based School Readiness Integration Partnerships: Promoting Sustainable Collaborations downloadable from the CLI website (PDF format) from the following link:
  • 8. http://www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/our-programs/program-overview/TX-school- ready/documents/PromotingSustainableCollaborations.pdf Other tools are also available on the CLI website at the following link: http://www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/our-programs/program-overview/TX-school- ready/community-tools/ Question 32: Where can an applicant get information on the current approved list of state adopted Prekindergarten curriculum? The information is available from the following link: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/textbooks/materials/bulletin/programs.pdf Question 33: Where can an applicant access the information shared in the TETN on Thursday, April 2, 2009? The PowerPoint presentation is available on the CLI website and at the following link: http://www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/downloads/TSR!TETN04022009.pdf Question 34: Do the Target (Year) 2 teachers who have participated one year in the TEEM project require 4 hours of mentoring? Yes. Several years of data gathering supports this increase of mentoring hours for Target 2 teachers in the project. Their participation in eCIRCLE Online Professional Development introduces them to new topics and concepts and support is needed toward classroom implementation. Question 35: Will the districts that have received the Tier grants have trouble with supplanting when the two grants seem to overlap? Funds for the TSR! project must be used to supplement (increase the level of services) and not supplant (replace) funds from federal, state, and local funds for similar activities. Any program activity required by state law, State Board of Education rules, or local board policy may not be paid with these funds. State or local funds may not be decreased or diverted for other uses merely because of the availability of these funds. Grantees must maintain documentation which clearly demonstrates the supplementary nature of these funds. Applicants must describe in the application how program funds will supplement and not supplant state
  • 9. mandates, SBOE rules, or activities previously conducted with state or local funds, including the award of the PKES Tier grant. Question 36: The district would also like to include items such as extra duty pay for the data entry clerk, School Readiness materials, testing materials (PDA, software, CPALLS+, etc) and other items that are essential to the implementation of the program. Are these acceptable entries on the budget? No. The budget must include only those line items as outlined in the RFA. Extra duty pay is not an allowable expense. Substitute pay is included on a reimbursement bases for up to three days to allow teachers participating in the project to attend the CIRCLE Preschool Early Language and Literacy training (2 days) and the one day progress monitoring training. The completion of the Texas School Readiness Certification System application is the responsibility of the participating campus administrator and/or his designee(s). A data clerk, for example, can be assigned the tasks of updating student attendance monthly in the system. Teachers will have the responsibility of completing a survey in the spring of the year. A principal can print out the facility report and assign a teamto collect the information required prior to the physical entry of the data into the system. There will also be mechanisms to upload large amounts of data into the Pre-kindergarten application through the State Center alleviating some of the data entry time required in the past. Information on the TOMS (Texas School Ready! Online Monitoring System) will be provided to grantees. Question 37: Does each district employ a Project Mentor and a Project Coordinator Mentor? If it is a small district with 5 teachers, can the district employ 1 person to fulfill the role? The State Center will work with grantees to ensure appropriate staffing for funded projects. A small group of 5 teachers from within a district Pre-kindergarten program should be balanced with similar numbers of teachers from Head Start and child care from within the community to meet the requirements of partnership. This would increase the number of participating classrooms to a more appropriate number to support the funding of a mentor for the project. If partners are not available, there might possibly be opportunity to join another community project for services. Question 38: Is TEEM able to give CEU’s for teachers who are enrolled in the E-CIRCLE class through the TEEM project? No. TEEM as a project is not able to award continuing education credits or units (CEUs). The University of Texas Health Science Center Question 39: One concern regarding applying for the Texas SchoolReady! Project Grant is that the TSR! grant includes incentive pay for the teachers and the PKES Tier 1 grant does not.
  • 10. If both teacher groups are expected to go to the same training and only one group is receiving a stipend for their extra time, what is a solution? The assumption made in responding to this question is that in the district’s PKES Tier 1 grant application, the district did not budget for or request funding for teacher stipends. One solution, based on the dilemma, is to not include the incentive pay for teachers in the TSR! application. This will eliminate the inequity created when teachers from the similar grant programs are participating in the same professional development programs. Question 40: Do applicants have to submit theiragency’s most recent financial statement as they did in previous TEEM grant applications? Though not stipulated in the RFA, the submission of the agency’s most recent financial statement can be included in the grant submission. Question 41: Do applicants have to submit letters of support such as those required in previous TEEM grant applications? The letters of support required are clearly outlined in the RFA. Refer to Appendix 4. Question 42: Are ISDs eligible for the grant if their integration between Head Start and ISD are stand alone classrooms? Yes. Explain your integration plan as directed in Project Component #1. Question 43: In the past, we have had a difficult time partnering with otherproviders. The children in local area programs could definitely benefit from participating in the grant activities. Can a district apply for the grant as a lead agency and collaborate with either Head Start or child care without partnering with both?
  • 11. The goal of the TSR! project is to establish integration between ISDs, Head Starts and child care providers if there are both represented within a community. However, participation decisions will be based on community need. Please address the need in your community in the application. Question 44: Are licensed child care facilities allowed to apply as a lead agency? Yes.