CIFR is launching the first round of Communities of Practice (CoPs) for 2021 to bring together state staff with a shared interest around four IDEA Part B fiscal issues: LEA Maintenance of Effort (MOE), IDEA Allocations to LEAs, Maintenance of State Financial Support (MFS), and New State Fiscal Staff. The CoPs are specially designed to meet the networking and learning needs of state staff to help improve the quality of states’ collection, reporting, analysis and use of IDEA Part B fiscal data. Each of these CoPs will provide opportunities for state staff to extend their fiscal learning and to solve problems of practice through a collective experience facilitated by CIFR staff. For this first round, the CoPs will meet monthly, for 1 to 2 hours per month, for 4-6 months depending on the needs and interests of the members. Each state staff with fiscal responsibilities wil be able to select one CoP to join for this first round of CoPs. In the fall, a second round of CoPs will begin with topics identified based on states’ interests and needs at that time. Again, state staff will have an opportunity to join a CoP of their choice from the several that will be offered.

For this first round, each CoP may include 1-2 staff members from the same state, with approximately 5-10 states represented in each CoP. Membership is voluntary and staff may choose the CoP in which to participate.

State staff with IDEA fiscal responsibilities are encouraged to register for one of our upcoming CoPs described further below.

Communities of Practice (CoP): May — October 2021 (at least 4 months)

1.  LEA Maintenance of Effort (MOE):

  • LEAs across the country will be receiving supplemental IDEA funds through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). SEAs will need to be ready to support LEAs in continuing to meet the LEA MOE requirements amid this unprecedented funding increase and the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This CoP will focus on how SEAs can assist LEAs in meeting LEA MOE or in minimizing LEA MOE failures. State participants will share specific situations from their LEAs where exceptions may or may not apply and other participants will share strategies or resources they have developed for addressing those situations. CIFR facilitators will highlight CIFR resources on LEA MOE. Sessions will cover:

    • Calculating adjustments resulting from an increase in IDEA allocation, including eligibility requirements and the use of freed-up funds
    • Calculating the five exceptions to LEA MOE

2. LEA Allocations:

  • The LEA Allocations CoP will provide SEA participants from across the country a platform for identifying, sharing, and responding to IDEA Part B subgrant allocation challenges, particularly those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This CoP will focus on how SEAs can lean into practices and procedures, share strategies for addressing specific situations facing participating SEAs, and use CIFR resources to anticipate and adapt to these challenges and ensure accurate calculation and distribution of IDEA Part B subgrants to LEAs within their state. Anticipated session topics include:

    • Challenges and considerations related to population and poverty counts
    • Additional IDEA funding amounts provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP),/li>
    • Base payment adjustment scenarios due to changes in LEAs, including charter school LEAs
    • Other timely problems of practice identified by participants

3. Maintenance of State Financial Support (MFS):

  • Is your state facing a decline in state revenue due to COVID-19? The MFS CoP will provide states strategies to respond to concerns collecting, calculating, reporting and grappling with state funding complexities in meeting the requirements of MFS. This group will explore what state education agencies can do to ensure a stronger understanding of MFS within the state education department, among policy makers, and other state agency staff. Additionally, the CoP will address concerns about frequent staff turnover that leads to limited understanding of MFS and consequences of not meeting the requirement; lack of clear communication channels between the program and fiscal departments; and unresponsiveness from other state agencies. Participants will be able to:

    • Share ideas on what procedures can be established to streamline MFS data collection
    • Build capacity to ensure that state agencies understand their role and responsibilities related to the collection and reporting of MFS
    • Collaborate to learn strategies to engage and explain MFS to key stakeholders
    • Learn what CIFR resources will help support your MFS needs

4. New State Fiscal Staff:

  • The New State Fiscal Staff CoP will provide support to state staff who are new to IDEA fiscal work within the past 18 months. The CoP will dig into the content of the IDEA Fiscal Timeline, the Understanding the IDEA Grant Funding Cycle and Different Fiscal Years, and navigate the CIFR website, to provide support for meeting IDEA fiscal requirements. The CoP will support participants to unpack their own state processes with an understanding of why they do it and how they do it to meet IDEA requirements. Initially, the CoP will answer these questions:

    • What should I be working on now?
    • What next?
    • What questions should I be asking?
    • What resources are available to guide or assist me with these tasks?

If you are interested in signing up for a CoP, please register here by May 7, 2021.  Please feel free to forward this announcement to your colleagues.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email. The facilitator of the CoP will contact you to coordinate your participation.

If you have any questions or need further assistance with the CoPs, please contact your state TA Liaison or Lizann Salazar at [email protected].

Thank you,

CIFR Part B TA Staff