ARRA Education Jobs Funds - Frequently Asked Questions
Budgeting Across 2010-11 and 2011-12
Q1. Does the allocation posted on the web cover two years or is it a one-year allocation with the same amount allocated again for 2011-12?
A: The allocation is for the two school years, in total. There will not be a second allocation for 2011-12.
Q2. Can we choose to spend all the money this year?
A: Yes. The period of availability for obligation is August 10, 2010 through June 30, 2012. Districts are able to budget any portion of their total grant in any proportion they wish between the two school years this covers, 2010-11 and/or 2011-12.
Q3. Are expenditures allowed for the whole 2010-11 year or just April, May, and June?
A: The period of availability for obligation is August 10, 2010 through June 30, 2012. Therefore, the Budget Summary for 2010-11 can reflect expenditures for allowable activities between August 10, 2010 and June 30, 2011.
Q4. If zero is submitted for 2010-11 and then there are aid cuts, can the budget be amended? What will the process be?
Yes. An amended Budget Summary and/or Narrative may be submitted in the on-line system, under "Applications, Budgets, Amendments, and Finals." Only districts that have received Department approval of their initial Budget Summary and Narrative will be able to amend and resubmit to make changes. Others may contact the Department at 518-474-3936 to request permission to make changes in their pending submitted budget. Please do not submit an amended budget if there are no changes to either the Budget Summary or Narratives.
Q5. If we submit a budget for 2010-11 and do not request or expend the funds, will this budget amount roll over to 2011-12?
A: Yes. You will have to file a Budget Summary and Narrative for the 2011-12 balance.
Q6. If we want to spend all the funds in 2011-12 will we list this only as part of the narrative and list zeros for the 2010-11 budget? If so, when will there be an opportunity to submit for 2011-12?
A: There will be another opportunity later in the year, probably this summer, to submit your budget for 2011-12.
Q7. If we show in our narrative that all funds will be expended in 2011-12, will we still have to do quarterly reporting in 2010-11?
A: No. If there is no approved budget amount for 2010-11, the on-line reporting system will not show an “Approved Amount for Reporting” in the 2010-11 quarters.
Q8. When do expenditures have to be made by in 2011-12?
A. Obligations must be made by June 30, 2012, with all expenditures completed by August 1, 2012, so that final reporting can be completed by September 30, 2012.
Payment and Accounting Process
Q9. Once the budget is submitted, will we get a formal approval letter? If so, would we need to wait to file FS-25’s until after award letter is received?
Q10. Will we receive an award letter for 2010-11 if we are submitting a zero budget (for 2010-11)?
Q11. If EJF will be in the special aid fund, will we be able to request funds for anticipated expenditures on the FS-25?
A: FS-25's should be submitted for expenditures only, up to 90% of the total approved budget amount. Anticipated expenses are not allowed for this grant. For further information: http://www.oms.nysed.gov/cafe/guidance/payments.html
Q12. Since this will be part of the special aid fund are we allowed indirect costs?
A: No. Indirect costs are not allowed.
Q13. Will school districts need to keep payroll certifications for positions funded with EJF?
A: Because EJF is being treated as a federal grant, payroll certifications are required for employees funded wholly or in part with EJF funds. Education Stabilization Funds (ESF)were treated as general fund revenues, as a replacement for the Gap Elimination Adjustment that reduced general state aid. If a position was fully funded with ESF dollars, it did not require payroll certifications.
Q14. What type of documentation is required (i.e., Board resolution) to show that the positions qualified as saved or created under the Ed Jobs Funds?
A: A board resolution identifying which staff member’s salaries are being funded with Education Jobs Fund money would serve as good source documentation.
Special Aid Fund vs. General Fund Treatment
Q15. Must these funds be accounted for in the General Fund or the Special Aid Fund?
A: Special Aid Fund.
Q16. It seems that these funds are similar to the ARRA Stabilization funds that were accounted for in the General Fund. Why are these now being moved to the Special Aid Fund?
A: Unlike the ARRA ESF funds, which were treated like general state aid, Education Jobs Funds are for a specific purpose. As a result, they must be accounted for in the Special Aid Fund. The concern is that failure to properly document that the funds are used as intended may jeopardize the receipt of funds.
Q17. Can we keep the expense in the general fund budget and use the EJF fund as revenue to generate fund balance, simply passing it through the Special Aid Fund or doing interfund transfers at 6/30? Can we just make year-end journal entries to move the expense to the Special Aid Fund?
A: Both the expense and revenue must be accounted for in the Special Aid Fund. All expenses and all revenue must be recorded there. There can be no “splitting” of the accounting between the General and Special Aid Funds. Districts are encouraged to be current with the recording of revenue and expenses in the Special Aid Fund to avoid large year-end journal entries and may wish to visit with their auditors about this.
Q18. How will accounting for EFJ funds in the Special Aid Fund affect our contingency budget calculations in 2011-12 and 2012-13?
A: The starting point for calculation of a 2011-12 contingency budget would be the approved 2010-11 budget. For districts planning to spend EJF funds in 2011-12 and reduce the general fund budget for 2011-12 by the amount of such funds, this may potentially reduce the approved budget amount used as the starting point for the contingency budget calculation for 2012-13.
Q19. We are concerned that the State will supplant State Aid Funds with EJF funds that are left over from 2010-2011 school year. Is this a possibility?
A: The Governor has proposed for 2011-12 a $1.5 billion cut to school districts over the prior year because of a lack of revenues.
Allowable vs. Non-allowable Uses of EJF
Q20. Can BOCES employees be funded with this?
A: No. Because federal guidelines specifically restrict expenditures to direct employees of an LEA; contractual services, such as those provided by a BOCES, are prohibited.
Q21. Can we use the funds to cover an early retirement incentive so that we don't have to have further layoffs? How is this reported as an FTE?
A: Yes. Early retirement incentives are specifically identified in the federal guidance as an allowable use. If a district claims this use under “Other”, FTE’s should be reported under jobs saved, based on the avoided job losses resulting from the retirement incentive. For example, if you spend $50,000 to incentivize an early retirement that results in saving one position, you would claim 1.0 FTE‘s retained, (assuming the retained position is a full-time item.) FTE’s for the retained jobs would be calculated normally, as the number of hours worked out of a full-time schedule.
Q22. What about the additional health care costs associated with the up to 26 year-olds that we're now required to cover under the Health Care Reform (Act)if we'd have to layoff employees due to the increased costs?
A: The additional costs could be paid for with EJF funds if they are associated with the jobs allowed under the regulations.
Q23. Guidance says that we can use EJF for tuition reimbursement - how do we report this on the application?
A: This should be included in the “Other Costs” column.
Q24. Since this will be part of the Special Aid Fund, are we allowed indirect costs?
A: No. Indirect costs are not allowed.
Q25. When this grant goes away in 2012-13, how will we fund these positions?
A: This is the often referenced “funding cliff.” We do not have an answer to this problem and hope the national and State economies recover sufficiently by that time to ease this fiscal crisis. In the event the economy doesn’t recover sufficiently, school districts should consider their options for achieving greater economies through sharing services, reorganization or both.
Q26. If we use the funds for specific positions for 2010-11 and 2011-12, are we required to keep these positions in 2012-13, or can we cut them in 2012-13?
A: No, there is no maintenance of effort requirement in the EJF after the end of the program on September 30, 2012.
Q27. Can you discuss the concerns related to Title I and supplanting/MOE?
A: Refer to Education Jobs Fund Guidance for Title I: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/fiscalejfguidance.pdfSubmit questions NYSED for Education Jobs Fund issues related to Title I to: T1ARRA@mail.nysed.gov