WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released final non-regulatory guidance to support school districts’ compliance with the requirement that federal funds supplement, and do not supplant, state and local funds, under section 1118 of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The guidance explains how ESSA changed the longstanding requirement in order to reduce administrative burden, simplify compliance, and promote effective spending.
While important and well-intentioned, the supplement not supplant requirement had become restrictive and burdensome—to the point that some school districts made ineffective spending choices to avoid noncompliance. Under ESSA, the supplement not supplant requirement changed to provide more flexibility to school districts while still ensuring that federal dollars are supplemental to state and local funds, and cannot be used to replace them.
“Schools need to spend resources on what’s best for students, not what’s least likely to come up in an audit,” said Secretary DeVos. “Teachers and school leaders consistently tell me the ever-growing paperwork burden is one of the biggest impediments to focusing on what really matters: the kids. This proposal does not change the legal obligations school districts have to make appropriate investments in education. It simply makes clear that a school district has significant flexibility in how it demonstrates compliance with the law.”
The release of final guidance follows a 30-day public comment period during which the public submitted largely positive feedback about the draft document. One commenter described being pleased that the document adhered closely to the statute, and another commenter conveyed a belief that the document will be of major assistance to states and school districts. Other commenters requested additional descriptive detail, which, when possible, was added. All public comments were carefully considered.
In order to comply with the new supplement not supplant requirement, a school district need only show that its methodology to allocate state and local resources to schools does not take into account a school’s Title I status. For many school districts, the requirement can be met using the school district’s current methodology for allocating state and local resources.