Frequently Asked Questions
Improving Teacher Quality - Funding and Budget
Are matching funds required?
There is no requirement to provide matching funds for ITQ grants. However, contributions of matching funds and/or in-kind services from the applicant institution, its partners, or outside sources are strongly encouraged as a commitment to demonstrating project sustainability. These contributions may also gain extra credit in the scoring. One potential source of contributions is the LEA's Title II-A formula grant allocation.
Are meal expenses an allowable cost?
Reasonable expenses for food are an allowable cost as a meeting expense under federal rules and need not be itemized in the budget, but should be included within meeting or workshop expenses. Projects must also follow their institution's policy with regard to such expenses. Additionally, travel that includes meal expenses is an allowable cost, but projects should limit travel expenses to the State of California guidelines or their own institution's policy, whichever is less. A general budget guideline would be to minimize meal costs to the extent possible, and to seek funds from other sources or in-kind contributions to support meals at meetings if possible.
Can we use these funds to pay tuition for participants?
These funds may not be used to pay tuition for pre-service teachers, but it is possible a sufficient case can be made for paying some tuition for active teachers who are participants in the intervention. Note that if use of these funds for tuition is proposed, it should be only one component of a coherent professional development plan, not the reason for the intervention. Payment of either tuition or stipends may be allowed, but not both.
Explain the "teacher day" calculation in the Budget Overview sheet.
The purpose of the Budget Overview is to summarize major project data on one page to make it easily available to reviewers and ITQ staff. The purpose of the calculation of "teacher days" is to produce an "apples to apples" comparative cost figure for a project that may be considered in evaluating whether it is cost-effective. Since most projects deliver services in increments of hours, rather than days, we have provided a conversion from hours into days. The calculation is intended to convert the total number of hours provided to all teachers served during the life of the project into a total number of project days provided, and then to arrive at a per day cost by dividing that figure into the total four-year cost of the project. (NOTE: this figure is not meant to represent the daily stipend of a teacher or other "per day" costs—it is a shorthand formula to find the cost per teacher spread across the entire project). The "teacher day" calculation is applied only to the federal funds being requested from the Commission.
How will projects be evaluated for "cost effectiveness?" Is there a specific amount per teacher day that is too much?
There is no hard-and-fast rule for determining that a project is too expensive for the value it produces. However, your goal should be to deliver cost-effective service, not to maximize the amount of grant funding received. In previous competitions most projects that were deemed to be fundable and reasonable by the reviewers showed costs per teacher day between $300 and $650. A figure that exceeds $650/teacher day—or that is extremely low—will need to be explained and justified in the proposal.
Is funding awarded on a year-by-year basis or is it awarded for the entire four-year period?
The grant award is intended to fund the total project over the four-year period, but must be spent per annual budgets. Additional applications are not required for activation of funding in each subsequent year, but the continuation of funding is subject to several conditions: continuation of federal authorizing legislation and availability of federal funds; submission of required reports and data by projects; and substantial compliance with the goals, objectives, and activities outlined in the original proposal or modified with approval of ITQ Program management. CPEC does not normally issue formal announcements of funding each year, but will confirm informally that funding continues to institutions upon request. ITQ management reserves the right to terminate a grant in the event of non-performance or violation of law, regulation or guidance, but will not do so without advance notice to the institution that provides an opportunity to correct the deficiency.
Is there a limit on the amount of subcontracts?
No. There is, however, a limit on the indirect costs that can be taken on subcontracts (see the next question).
What is the 50% rule regarding funding?
The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program requires that no single partner in the grant may BENEFIT from more than 50% of the funds in the grant (since each project requires at least three partners, this should not be difficult). Projects will be expected to estimate the distribution of funding benefit when submitting their proposed budgets and to file annual reports and a final report of how they have adhered to the rule. More discussion of the rule can be found in Section F-29 of the Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title II-A issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
What is the indirect cost recovery rate?
The maximum indirect cost recovery rate is 8 percent. In the event that funds are allocated by the grantee institution through contracts or subgrants to other partners, the indirect cost recovery rate may be applied only to the first $25,000 of the contract or subgrant. Additionally, grantees are expected to apply the 8% maximum to indirect charges by other agencies in those contracts or subgrants.
What is the source of the funds for these grants
Improving Teacher Quality State Grants funds come from Title II, Part A of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001—the federal legislation that provides support to elementary and secondary education. The program's goal, in line with NCLB's overall goals, is to ensure that all students have access to highly qualified teachers. In addition to these competitive grants awarded to institutions of higher education, Title II-A also allocates formula grants directly to school districts for professional development. (For further information on formula grants, contact the California Department of Education. Contact information is available on the Improving Teacher Quality Contacts
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