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Grants and Other Financial Assistance Programs: FY2012

Innovation Schools Planning Grant
Fund Code: 202

Purpose: The Innovation School initiative, a key component of the education legislation that Governor Patrick signed into law in January 2010, gives educators and other stakeholders across the state the opportunity to create in-district schools that will leverage the lessons learned from the state's top performing autonomous schools. In particular, these unique schools will operate with increased autonomy and flexibility in the areas of curriculum, budget, school schedule and calendar, staffing (including waivers from or exemptions to collective bargaining agreements), school district policies, and professional development. In exchange for greater authority to establish the school conditions that will lead to improved teaching and learning, the operators of Innovation Schools will be held accountable for meeting annual benchmarks for student achievement and school performance.

The Innovation School initiative is aligned with multiple goals of Massachusetts' RTTT plan, including promoting the implementation of innovative practices in schools and districts, providing students with differentiated learning opportunities, and preparing all students for lifelong success.

There is no cap on the number of Innovation Schools that can be established, and new schools can be created or existing schools can be converted in any district in Massachusetts.
Priorities: Priority will be given to proposals for:
  1. establishing Innovation Schools by September, 2012;
  2. establishing Innovation Schools in Level 3 or 4 districts; and
  3. establishing Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (STEM)-focused Innovation Schools.
Eligibility: In order to be eligible to apply for a planning grant, an applicant must:
  1. Be an eligible applicant as identified in the Innovation Schools statute (M.G.L., Chapter 71, Section 92): (i) parents; (ii) teachers; (iii) parent-teacher organizations; (iv) principals; (v) superintendents; (vi) school committees; (vii) teacher unions; (viii) colleges and universities; (ix) non-profit community-based organizations; (x) non-profit business or corporate entities; (xi) non-profit charter school operators; (xii) non-profit education management organizations; (xiii) educational collaboratives; (xiv) consortia of these groups; and (xv) non-profit entities authorized by the commissioner;
  2. Be working in partnership with an RTTT participating district to establish an Innovation School in that district (the planning grant will be submitted by and awarded to the district, and if a planning grant is awarded, the applicant will work with appropriate district administrators to make decisions about spending grant funds); and
  3. Have completed the first stage of the Innovation School authorization process as outlined in state law. The first stage of the authorization process requires that the applicant's prospectus be approved by two-thirds of the district's three-member screening committee, consisting of the superintendent or designee, a school committee member or a designee selected by the school committee, and a representative of the local teachers' union. Applicants that have already completed the final stage of the authorization process (majority approval of the innovation plan by the local school committee) are not eligible to apply for this planning grant, but will be eligible to apply for an implementation grant. Additional information about the implementation grant process will be provided during the spring of 2012.
Note:An applicant and school district cannot submit proposals for a Next Generation Learning Models Planning Grant (Fund Code: 154) and also an Innovation Schools Planning Grant (Fund Code: 202) for the same school.
Funding: Innovation Schools Planning Grants are funded by Massachusetts' Race to the Top (RTTT) award. These grants will be awarded to support the establishment of Innovation Schools in participating RTTT districts, those that submitted an MOU to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to indicate their commitment to implementing RTTT initiatives.

Approximately $200,000 is available for these planning grants, but the total amount awarded will depend on the quantity and quality of the proposals received.

Applicants can apply for up to $15,000 in planning grants per Innovation School proposed.

Given the availability of other state and federal resources, grants will not be awarded to convert Level 4 schools (those designated by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) into Innovation Schools.

Note:Participating RTTT districts that were awarded Readiness School Preliminary Planning Grants (FY2010 Fund Code: 221-G) during the summer of 2009 may apply, but their proposals will receive lowest priority for these planning grants unless the applicant can justify why additional funding is needed.
Fund Use: Funds must be used to support the planning activities of the innovation planning committee and must be consistent with applicable state and federal requirements.

Examples of allowable expenditures include but are not limited to: 1) stipends for educators; 2) reimbursements for substitutes; 3) services provided by consultants; and 4) the acquisition of curriculum materials related to development of an innovation plan.

Unallowable expenditures include: 1) capital expenses; 2) purchase of computer hardware; 3) out-of-state travel expenses; and (4) purchase of food or beverages.
Project Duration: Upon Approval - August 31, 2012
Program Unit: Office of Charter Schools, Innovation, and Redesign
Contact: Bridget Rodriguez, Executive Office of Education (EOE)

Marlon Davis, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE)
Date Due for Required Email of Intent to Apply: Friday, December 23, 2011 by 5:00 p.m.

In order to compete for planning grant funding, each applicant that intends to applymustsubmit a non-binding email message of Intent to Apply indicating:
  1. The name(s) of the proposed Innovation School(s) for which the applicant and school district are seeking planning grant funding; and
  2. The contact information (name, title, email address, and phone number) for the applicant and district personnel who should be included on any communications sent out by the Department related to this grant program prior to the submission of a full application.
This Intent to Apply must be emailed later than the deadline specified above.
Date Due: Wednesday, January 18, 2012.

Competitive proposals must be received at the Department by 5:00 p.m. on the date due.
Required Forms:
  1. Download Excel Document  Budget Workbook (which includes the Standard Contract and Application for Program Grants [for signature] and Budget Detail Pages)
  2. Copy of the Innovation School prospectus approved by at least two members of the three-member screening committee.
  3. Download PDF Document Download Word Document  Signed Innovation School Approval Calendar Form (one for each Innovation School proposed).
Additional Information: Download PDF Document Download Word Document  Innovation School Prospectus and Innovation Plan Template

Additional guidance materials about Innovation Schools are available. Applicants are not required to use these templates and may instead develop their own format for presenting the relevant information. If an applicant chooses to use the templates provided, applicants may modify them in any way they choose. However, the key elements included in the template will be used to evaluate the relative strengths of applications.

Districts will be asked to ensure transparency and accountability and report publicly on the use of funds. In addition to the standard federal financial reports required for all federal grants, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will require additional, extensive reporting to document the use of all RTTT funds. RTTT will be subject to the same quarterly financial reporting requirements as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds and will be subject to programmatic reporting requirements. ED is still determining the specific programmatic data to be collected, but all RTTT recipients will be expected to comply with the finalized data reporting requirements. Districts receiving a RTTT grant should anticipate that they will be required to report separately and in detail regarding the use and impact of these funds on at least a quarterly basis.

Districts will be expected to participate in any program evaluation and monitoring activities associated with this grant.
Submission Instructions:
  1. Mail or hand-deliver three (3) hard copies of each required document (please indicate the set of documents with original signatures) to:
    Jennifer Ahern
    Office of Charter Schools, Redesign, and Innovation - 5thFloor
    Massachusetts Department of
    Elementary and Secondary Education
    75 Pleasant Street
    Malden, MA 02148-4906
  2. Email an electronic copy of each required document (signatures not required) Please put in the subject line of your email: "Fund Code 202: Innovation Schools Planning Grant - Name of your School District"
These files (in both hard copy and electronic formats) must be received at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by 5:00 p.m. on January 18, 2012.

Last Updated: December 2, 2011
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