By Suzanne M. Wilson, Treasurer
Each year federal grant funds are made available to Ohio school districts to be used for specific programs that are described later in this article. Application for grant funding must be submitted annually through the Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Planning (CCIP) Application. Our fiscal year 2018 application was recently approved by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Vermilion Board of Education approved receipt of the funds at their October 9, 2017 regular board meeting.
The nearly $1,000,000 that we will receive through federal grant programs is administered by the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Federal Programs, and all funds received through the CCIP must be expended during the 2017-2018 school year. Since any funds not used by the end of the fiscal year must be returned, we are diligent in making sure grant funds are appropriated in a responsible manner.
Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended, provides financial assistance to districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. The goal of the program is to ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. In Vermilion the grant funds are used to support salaries and benefits for five teachers; four at Vermilion Elementary School (VES) and one at the Sailorway Middle School. These teachers provide our youngest students with remedial help in both reading and math. Any funds not used to support salaries may be used to purchase supplies and materials to supplement the program.
The Title II-A – Supporting Effective Instruction grant is intended to increase student academic achievement by increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in classrooms and reducing class size. Since Vermilion has a lower number of students who qualify, we receive only enough funds to support around 80% of the salary for one teacher at VES. The remaining 20% of salary and 100% of benefits are paid by the school district through our general fund.
The Title IV Student Support & Academic Enrichment grant is a new federal grant in the application this year, and is designed to meet the unique needs of districts and schools. Funds generated from this grant for FY18 will be used to prevent bullying and harassment, and support relationship building, school dropout prevention, suicide prevention and child sexual abuse awareness and prevention. The District has contracted with The LCADA Way, an organization tied to the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County, for various programs that will be offered to students and staff throughout the school year.
The IDEA Special Education grant is used to pay salaries and benefits for our Special Education Supervisor and three teachers. In addition to salaries, funds will be used to provide training in parenting skills and to purchase materials designed to encourage parent involvement in the educational process. Additional funds are designated to purchase instructional materials and supplies for special education students and staff.
The Preschool Early Childhood Special Education grant is being used for instructional materials, staff professional development costs, encouraging parent involvement and family literacy training for our new preschool program.
A portion of the grant allocations are available for non-public schools based on a per pupil formula. Area non-public schools have been advised of their eligibility and were asked for details on how they wish to use their FY18 allocation. The Vermilion Local School District remains the fiscal agent for these funds, but the non-public school can determine how funds are to be spent for their school. Good communication is essential as we work with non-public schools to be sure funds are spent within the guidelines of each grant program.
The Ohio Department of Education regulates the use of all grant funds, and has an active audit team assigned to each grant program. The audit teams will periodically conduct onsite and/or electronic reviews to ensure funds are being used appropriately. In addition, we are required to submit year-end spending reports for each fund. All of our year-end reports are reviewed and audited by the Ohio Auditor of State’s office at the end of each fiscal year.