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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2018

Resource Reallocation to District Priorities
Fund Code: 110

Purpose: The goal of this competitive two-year grant program is to support school districts interested in making substantial changes in resource allocation and directing more resources toward evidence-based improvement strategies. Due to increasing health insurance, retirement, and labor costs and decreasing state revenue, the near-term forecast suggests that many districts are unlikely to experience revenue increases similar to those of the past. District superintendents recognize the importance of working strategically with available resources. Seventy-five percent of superintendent respondents to the Department's most recent Views of Instruction, State Standards, Teaching, and Assessment (VISTA) survey indicated that deployment of resources to maximize teaching and learning is a challenge, and fifty-seven percent reported that the lack of resources needed to provide extra help for struggling students is a challenge.

The Department has established this grant program to encourage districts to explore new ways to make the most of the resources available to them, and has dedicated up to $600,000 for grants over a two-year period.

Priorities: The main priority for this grant program is to improve district practices for resource allocation, specifically supporting districts to:
  • Examine and question resource allocation in more depth, using data available in districts along with tools provided by ESE, particularly Resource Allocation and District Action Reports (RADAR)
  • Make meaningful changes in resource allocation to support best practices and district improvement strategies
  • Measure the impact of resource shifts on the desired outcomes. Districts awarded grants will be paired with an action research consultant who will help gather data, measure impact and report results.
Tools developed by DESE that are relevant to this grant program's priorities include:
  • Resource Allocation and District Action Reports (RADAR): Tools for analyzing resource use and making comparisons with the state average and up to 10 selected districts; report packages on benchmarking, special education and class size/student courses. Piloted by 8 districts during SY16-17 and available to all districts in the security portal (three releases over summer 2017.)
  • District Analysis and Review Tools (DART): Trends and comparisons of school and district achievement, finance and staffing, success after high school and English learners' progress. Available on the DESE website.
  • Edwin Analytics: Reporting and data analysis tool that gives authorized users access to new information, reports and perspectives on education and programs. Available online for authorized district users.
  • Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS): Provides information to districts on the likelihood their students will reach key academic goals. Available in Edwin Analytics.
  • Student Learning Experience Report: Reports data on equitable access to effective educators. Draft available in Edwin Analytics, with an update scheduled for fall 2017.
Key Grant Requirements: One aim of this grant is to encourage districts to use a newly developed set of tools called the Resource Allocation District and Action Reports (RADAR) to improve resource allocation practices. The RADAR tools, built in Excel, provide new analyses for districts about their own resource use and how it compares to a user-selected group of 10 similar districts.

ESE is particularly seeking districts who want to use RADAR reports and local evidence to identify a need related to their district improvement/ strategic plan, apply resources to implement evidence-based strategies that address the need, and then evaluate the outcome. For example, districts might propose to:
  1. Increase at-risk students' access to effective educators
  2. Redesign staffing and scheduling to target specific learning gaps (e.g. at-risk elementary readers)
  3. Provide more targeted special education supports and/or provide supports more efficiently to reduce the necessary number of paraprofessionals or therapists
  4. Redesign scheduling and/or staffing to implement planning time for teachers to work on lesson plans or interventions or other professional collaboration
This is not an exhaustive list of options; DESE will consider any proposals for reallocations that have a basis in evidence for their likely effectiveness. 'Evidence-based strategies' can refer to educational practices for which there is evidence of positive impact found in published research papers, literature reviews, or Department advisories and publications, or to local practices that a district has tracked and found to be effective. A list of resources regarding evidence-based strategies is attached.

Applicants should be able to show that the proposed new strategy will have meaningful scale and impact by indicating the numbers of students or classrooms affected, with the understanding that a meaningful number for special populations such as students with disabilities would be smaller (see rubric for details.) In general, proposals with greater impact will be awarded more points and/or a larger grant amount. Smaller districts wanting to achieve a larger scale may consider applying under Category B with a group of districts implementing a similar strategy

To be eligible to win these grant awards, applicants must use RADAR tools as well as other data to complete and submit a preliminary plan for resource allocation shifts. For most districts, as SY17-18 budgets are already complete, the actual implementation of resource shifts will happen in the SY18-19 school year, the second year of the grant. The intent is for applicants to do a substantial portion of the analysis and planning work as part of the grant application, and be prepared to put the resource allocation plan in their SY18-19 budget.

For applications with qualifying initiatives already planned for SY17-18, the application should demonstrate how the district's resource allocation process includes the key components spelled out below. Districts must show use of RADAR tools, and may show how other DESE tools or local data analysis were used to make or validate the decision.

Grant Awards
Successful applicants will receive a two-year grant totaling approximately between $25,000 and $50,000 for individual districts, or approximately $25,000-100,000 for a group of districts. Each district or group will be paired with a consultant ("consulting partner" or "partner") contracted and paid for separate from district grants by DESE to support the district in measuring implementation and outcomes and to document the impact of the resource shift in a case study. The consulting partner will aid the district in considering questions of design, implementation, and roll-out of the intervention, and how the district can use local evidence to assess the impact and cost, or return on investment.

Grant recipients will be convened for one training conference each year and periodic phone conferences to share information about implementation and results, learn about program evaluation and return on investment, and problem-solve together. District and their assigned partner will track progress, document challenges and resolutions, monitor the impact on specified local metrics and report out to DESE regularly. The partner will also help collect and submit budget documentation to illustrate the resource reallocations. The partner will produce a final case study to be shared with districts and DESE offices.

The department expects to award grants to up to 10 districts or groups of districts. (This number is subject to change if necessary.)

Awards for Applying
Districts that apply but are not selected for a grant award will be eligible for a $1,000 award and participation in quarterly webinars in small cohorts with DESE staff to receive additional support for use of RADAR and planning for resource reallocation decisions. The $1,000 award will help defray costs of participating in these professional development activities. The consulting partner described above will make a limited data request from these districts to track impact and return on investment of their initiatives in a briefer format. These $1,000 awards will be available for up to 20 districts. (The dollar amount and number of districts listed here is approximate and subject to change if necessary.)

Category A: Application by a Single District
A strong application should contain the following components:

  1. Identification of district investment priorities. Districts should propose a priority area that they desire to expand via increased resources, at a scale that reaches a substantial number of students or classrooms. The priority area should be clearly linked to priorities and strategies in the district's improvement plan. The application should point to research and/or data supporting the idea that the planned investment is evidence-based and a relevant solution to a specific need in the district. Districts may use RADAR reports to identify areas that are currently under-resourced in comparison with peers, or practices that are out of line with the district's plan.

    For the investment priority, districts should show the expected level of added investment required to enact the priority at the desired scale, e.g. number of positions with estimated salaries, total price for materials, etc.

  2. Identification of possible sources of funds. Districts should show that they have identified current resources that could potentially be shifted or repurposed toward the selected investment priority. These can be shifts of time (changing job responsibilities so that individuals spend their time differently), money (savings in one area that are redirected) or positions (including through repurposing vacant positions or layoffs). Districts may use RADAR or other data to identify areas that are currently over-resourced relative to similar districts or intended practices. Districts should demonstrate that the intended resources could be made available on the timeline needed for the desired investments the district has described.

  3. Plan for monitoring impact. Districts should describe the intended impact of the investment of resources, and how they will use data to verify the impact occurs. Strong submissions should include plans to track implementation steps, early process outcomes, and specific practicable metrics that could be used to measure impact, as well as proposed targets for metric changes. This monitoring plan will be fully detailed with the aid of the consulting partner.

Applications should include as attachments the district's existing improvement or strategic plan and FY18 budget documents. The Department will evaluate proposals partly based on how well the shift is aligned to priorities identified in the context of district plans and budgets.

Category B: Application by a Group of Districts
A group of districts interested in working together on this effort may submit a single joint application, which may be organized by an independent group or an educational collaborative. For a group application, submissions should include all the components in Category A as described above, in the following manner:
  1. Identification of district investment priority. A single submission that explains how the investment aligns with the plans for all involved districts and their needs. Submission should break out pricing and scope of investment for each participating district.
  2. Identification of possible sources of funds. Submission should include a separate analysis for each district, detailing use of RADAR and other data to identify funds available.
  3. Plan for monitoring impact. Submission should include a single plan with metrics that could be used across participating districts.
Applications organized and submitted by a collaborative or an independent group must include letters of interest from the participating districts. Applications should include as attachments all districts' improvement/strategic plans and FY18 budget documents. The Department will evaluate proposals partly based on how well the proposed shift is aligned to priorities identified in the context of district plans and budgets.

Eligibility: All Massachusetts public school districts are eligible to apply for funding under:
  • Category A: Single district application
  • Category B: Group application

    Group applications may be organized and submitted by an independent group or by an educational collaborative on behalf of school districts interested in working on the same area of investment. Group applications require a lead agent and letters affirming participation from each district.
Districts may indicate their intent to apply by:
  • Submitting a letter of intent by September 1st including intended category (A or B) and district name(s)
  • Attending one of the RADAR planning workshops offered by the Department during summer 2017 and signing up to apply for the grant
Funding Type: Federal - 84.372
Funding: Approximately $600,000 total over two years is projected to be available for these grants. Awards will be made for an amount to be paid over two years. Districts will receive Year 1 funding as proposed or amended, and apply for continuation of funding for Year 2. The final amount is subject to federal budget appropriations.

A district may submit an application under only ONE of the following categories for:
  • Category A: Single District Application: $25,000 to $50,000 award total over two years, depending on size of district and scale of initiative
  • Category B: Group Application: $25,000 to $100,000 award total over two years, depending on number of districts, size of districts, and scale of initiative
Note: Should additional funds become available as a result of unclaimed or returned grant awards, the Department may redistribute those funds in an appropriate manner among other awarded grantees.

Funding is contingent upon availability. All dollar amounts listed are estimated/approximate and are subject to change. If more funding is to become available it will be distributed under the same guideline as listed in the initial RFP document.

Fund Use: Funds may be used to cover costs associated with implementing the grant and overseeing the implementation and evaluation of the proposed changes. For example:
  • Professional development for staff (potentially for data specialist, leadership team members and/or others to learn to use data tools or analyze impact and return on investment)
  • Stipends and/or travel expenses for staff time
  • Materials in support of the changes
  • Activities related to communication of changes or engagement with staff/community
Funds may also be used for one-time transition or implementation costs related to the specific investment priorities described in the grant application, for example:
  • Professional development for staff changing roles or implementing a new program
  • Contribution to salaries in initial years as needed during the grant period, before resource shifts are complete (resource plan must show how salaries will be sustainable after the grant)
  • Program materials and supplies
  • One-time implementation costs
Districts must submit 2 grant workbooks (Part 2) for their proposed SY17-18 and SY18-19 expenses, and also complete the budget summary table in Part 3, Required Information. First year expenses may be anywhere from 20% to 80% of the total grant amount. Total grant amounts over the two years will be $25,000 to $50,000 for Category A and $25,000 to $100,000 for Category B, depending on district size and the scale of the proposed intervention. The Department reserves the right to determine the total amount offered to districts or groups and require changes to proposed budgets.

Project Duration: Upon approval to 6/30/18, with continuation of funding for second year to 6/30/19

Anticipated timeline for applications:
  • June 2017: Grant application made available for preview
  • August 2017: Grant application window opens
  • October 16, 2017: Grant applications due
  • Early November 2017: Grantees notified
  • Late November 2017: Grantees convened with consultant and department staff
Timeline for execution of grant:
  • Fall and winter 2017: Grantees work with vendor during their SY18-19 planning and budget process to incorporate resource reallocations and develop indicators for monitoring results
  • Spring and summer 2018: Grantees finalize SY18-19 budgets incorporating resource shifts and begin planning with assigned consultant for implementation and monitoring
  • Fall 2018: Grantees implement new practices and monitor outcomes with support of consultant
  • SY18-19: Grantees continue implementing and monitoring, reporting out regularly on measures of impact to DESE
  • June 2019: Grantees and consultants produce final report / case study to document the resource shifts, changes in practice, monitoring methodology and resulting impact. In cases with minimal or no impact, grantees should also report planned corrections.
  • School year 2019-20: Grantees are encouraged to continue implementing practices that have proven effective without grant support in this and future years.

Program Unit: Office of Planning and Research
Contact: Sarah Carleton
Phone Number: (781) 338-3511

Date Due: Monday, October 16, 2017 (emailed and postmarked)

Proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. on the date due.

Required Forms:
Download Word Document
Part I - Signature Page

Download Excel Document
Year 1 Budget

Download Excel Document
Year 2 Budget

Download Word Document
Part III - Required Program Information

Download Excel Document
Multi-year Resource Plan (Excel worksheet)

(For group applications) Individual Letters of Commitment From Participating Districts

District Improvement Plan

District Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018

Additional Information: See attached documents about evidence-based practices. These are for information only; there is no requirement to cite them, and your sources are not limited to them.

Download Word Document
Planning for Success: Researching and Selecting Evidence-Based Practices and Programs

Download Word Document
More information about evidence-based practices and resource strategies

Submission Instructions: Email one (1) complete set of all required documents in their original Word or Excel formats (i.e., not converted to a pdf) and email one scanned version of the Part 1 document with signature to (Must be received no later than 5:00 pm on the due date)

Awarded Recipients: Upon award, recipients will be required to enter the approved budget and Part I in EdGrants. Once selected, recipients will be contacted with further instructions on the process.

Last Updated: August 21, 2017
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