Under Section 3114(b) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), a state educational agency (SEA) shall not award a Title III subgrant to a local educational agency (LEA) if the amount is less than $10,000. Local educational agencies that do not meet the $10,000 threshold may form a consortium to qualify for these funds. LEAs that are interested in forming a consortium must agree and commit to the following. Districts must designate a member of the group to serve as the fiscal agent.
Consortium Fiscal Agent and Programmatic Responsibilities
The consortium lead will be responsible for acting as the fiscal and programmatic agent for the consortium, and will file the required expenditure reports and maintain fiscal records. The consortium lead may delegate responsibilities to each of the consortium members. Actions of the fiscal agent include:
- Notifying DPI of Intent to Form a Title III Consortium in a timely manner.
- Developing an application, in collaboration with its consortium members, detailing the activities that meet the common needs of the consortium’s English Learner (EL) population.
- Providing a budget detailing projected expenditures. The program plan and corresponding budget should reflect budget items for all participating districts. Consortia funds can be pooled to leverage services, support, and professional development among participating member districts and are encouraged to do so.
- Ensuring that the consortium members fulfill their fiscal and programmatic responsibilities under Title III, including meeting the Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) including required parent notifications and improvement plans for AMAO determinations made at a consortium level.
- Assuring that the funds may be used to supplement but not supplant other federal, state, or local public funds.
- Working with each participating district to ensure the equitable participation rights of private school children are met.
At the close of the fiscal year, any unexpended funds will be considered carryover funds for the consortium into the next fiscal year. The fiscal agent is responsible for submitting all reimbursement claims to DPI.
Consortium Member Responsibilities:
All LEAs are required to establish a district plan for identifying and serving ELs within their school and district, as well as following established protocols for identifying ELs. In the case of Title III funding, districts should work with their consortia lead to identify and develop a plan of activities in collaboration with the fiscal agent that meet the needs of the EL population. The plan of activities must include:
- How member districts will improve services for ELs relative to English proficiency and the English language development standards and academic achievement in content areas.
- How professional development will be provided for teachers, administrators, and staff to improve instruction for ELs; a portion of the funds must be allocated to professional development.
Individual member districts are responsible for submitting all ESEA applicable assurances. Steps within the electronic ESEA application:
- An LEA wishing to enter into a consortium may do so by selecting the “join a consortium” option for each program budget on the “Management Funds” screen in the ESEA application. By selecting this option, the LEA elects to surrender their entire Title III program allocation to the consortium.
- The district must sign a consortium verification form stating they understand the programs and services it will receive from the consortium.
- The LEA is responsible for meeting the equitable participation requirements for private schools. The school district must submit a written affirmation from each private school serving students who reside in the public school attendance area. This affirmation assures that the private schools are provided meaningful consultation and indicates the titles in which a private school wishes to participate. The school district and consortium fiscal agent must work together to ensure that the participating private schools receive their equitable share of program services.
Consortium Dissolution or Membership Changes
Upon dissolution of the consortium, any unspent funds are reallocated to participating Title III districts. If the consortium is adding or losing members the following year, the funds generated by the current members should be expended in the same (current) grant year. For example, if Consortium ABC generated $10,000 for 20132014, the $10,000 should be expended during 20132014, before changing membership in 20142015. Otherwise, the LEA leaving the consortium forfeits the Title III funds generated by that LEA and those funds are applied to the newly reconfigured consortium.
Further ESEA guidance on consortia participation can be found at Bulletin O4.01 ESEA Consortia.