Federal Resources for Fire Affected LEAs (CA Dept of Education)


All right, well thanks for joining us this morning again this is Margaret Ries from the California Department of Education so you know unfortunately I wish we weren’t here today but we are here to help, as you know there were severe wildfires in primarily Northern California in October of this year and then wildfires primarily in Southern California in December of this year and when the wildfires took place in October in Northern California the US Department of Education reached out to the California Department of Education to offer their assistance and particularly to let us know about a grant called Project SERV and I’ll go more into these details today but this webinar is targeted for the folks in Southern California that were impacted by the December fires so we’ll just go ahead and get started if at any point you have questions feel free to type them into the chat box I’ll also open it up at the end if you have any questions and hopefully we can get those answered for you today. I imagine this webinar I’ll take 10-15 minutes it’s a pretty quick one and I also include my contact information and these slides should be posted to our website tomorrow so you can download them as well. We’re having a little trouble advancing the slides give me one moment and we’ll get started. All right, so this is information on our website related hopefully that’s helpful for you for this information and as you begin to recover from the impact of the wildfires of course as I mentioned we’ll have the slides from today’s webinar and they should be posted tomorrow they’re not available at this moment and then there’s also a document that you’re going to need and it is the project serve application it’s also known as the LEA needs-assessment and I’ll show you an example later on but we intentionally tried to create it as a very simple one-page document for school districts to fill out so that is a link to the resources page as well as the application to the Project SERV grant also known as the needs assessment. Okay so this is a slide that we used in the October wildfires in response because initially just because there were so many counties involved so much immediate need and I guess fortunately it has been such a long time since schools had been in sort of the danger zone and in evacuation areas for an emergency that we reminded folks of how school districts or LEA’s can interact with state resources and particularly those are through Cal OES or the governor’s office of emergency services Cal OES and so it sounds like particularly in Santa Barbara County and Ventura counties and others that have been impacted you do have regular communication with your County EOC or your Emergency Operations Center that is the hub that is where school districts need to be involved as we’re working with the folks in Santa Barbara County who have been impacted by the mudslides this month it’s been reassuring to see what a strong connection there is between the County Office of Education, the local school districts, and then the County Emergency Operations Center and so if you’re LEA has a really specific need that cannot immediately be met we suggest and encourage you to work closely with your County EOC to report that need the county EOC will do its best with available resources to address that need and for some reason it cannot be met with available resources the County EOC submits a request to Cal OES and then as needed Cal OES creates something called a mission task and then coordinates with the various state and federal agencies to provide resources back to that County the resources then provide right as you’ll see in that dark blue circle or square rectangle and then hopefully the LEA needs are met so if you have a large need or something that just can’t be tackled locally please please please begin to communicate with your County EOC okay so Project SERV is an acronym for the School Emergency Response to Violence and it’s a grant dedicated is a few dedicated federal funding used to provide education related services to LEAs in which the learning environment was disrupted due to a traumatic crisis and so typically actually this is an atypical grant that we’re doing and I’ll explain that in just a minute. Typically it’s a grant awarded to an LEA or on a school level basis after the October wildfires as I mentioned the US Department of Education reached out to CDE and provided the opportunity to apply for a larger grant or a larger amount of funding as the state educational agency on behalf of those impacted LEA’s and so the CDE is indeed applying for projects or grant on behalf of the October impacted LEA’s and given the events in Southern California there will be a separate Project SERV application for the December impact so CDE will have two Project SERV applications. We are still in the process of determining with the US Department of Education if there will be a separate a third grant for those counties or LEAs impacted by the mudslides in Santa Barbara County if I had to bet a dollar I would say that we will likely couple that application with our December wildfire application but we will provide that update to our website. For example Project SERV grants were distributed in this way to New York after Hurricane sandy and the state of Louisiana after their hurricanes and subsequent flooding and 2016. So the application process we hope is a straightforward as possible and this is a relatively unique federal grant because it is flexible and fluid by design because the US Department of Education knows that each disaster, incident, emergency comes with its unique needs circumstances and so the way it will work is LEA’s will need to complete that one-page form that needs assessment I linked to earlier and it’s also available here by the end of February initially we have recorded that date to be January 31st but we received some feedback that school districts just needed more time and so we are happy to provide more time as needed and so we’ve pushed back that due date for this December application until the end of February so our website will be updated accordingly but feel free to tell your colleagues who also will be applying for this grant but you have more time and we need those those needs assessments back to CDE by the end of February and so the process will be that LEA’s complete those applications submit them to CDE and then the CDE reviews those needs assessments for allowable expenses in just a moment I’ll go through some examples of allowable and unallowable expenses. We may at that point call your school district and ask for additional information just based on how you describe the needs assessment we want to keep the application as simple as possible but we may call you just ask for some additional justification and then we send those needs assessments that we’ve sort of edited for allowable expenses to the US Department of Education and then they review them as well for what they deem to be allowable expenses. I know it may be somewhat frustrating that there isn’t a black and white list of this expenses allowable and this one is unallowable but as I mentioned this grant is flexible by design and so the US Department of Education didn’t want to publish or create a list of a hard and fast rules of things that can and cannot be reimbursable under this grant so my advice to you as folks filling out this application is err on the side of listing everything that you think may be eligible for this grant, it won’t hurt your application in any way. We will review the grant and if we think that something, or the US Department of Education might think is an unallowable expense, we just will remove it from your application we will send you a note letting you know that it was removed so you can use that information for your own planning so at that point the US Department of Education once they receive the information from CDE makes a funding determination based on the LEA needs assessments. We have not fully submitted our October applications, so we don’t know how much funding we will receive. In talking with other states most impacted in Gulf states when they’ve applied they’re asked has been greater than what their grant award has been and so I feel very confident that California will receive funding for both and the October and December incidents but it likely will not be a hundred percent of our ask and so I’m just making this up if California’s ask is two million dollars and we only receive $1 million in funding from the US Department of Education the CDE will have to make a determination of how we will fund those needs assessments and those requests based on the funding we do receive and so that information will be detailed in your subsequent award letter. And so once you receive those letters from CDE and funding has been approved LEAs may submit reimbursement request to the CDE for reimbursement I’ll go into that a little more in detail in the future slides and so this is a image of what the needs assessment form looks like and so again hopefully it’s pretty simple just list your you know LEA name, contact information, a description of the item, a justification of the need, an estimate of the number of students that will benefit if you’re aware of any other funding sources that may pay for this and so in most incidences we believe that the FEMA public assistance program and/or private insurance will likely cover many if not most of your expenses, but we also know that both web paths FEMA and public and private insurance will take some time. First for the district to analyze what your need is to submit claims through both of those processes and others that may be available and so you may not know exactly what your ask is at this point so approximations are okay at this point because for example let’s say that you request $5,000 – as an allowable expense for additional substitute teachers, but in the end you only use $4,000 worth of substitute time and so because you’re submitting reimbursements to CDE you would only submit the $4,000 claim to CDE and so you would only be reimbursed for those actual expenses so I think that goes through that let’s move on to the next slide. All right so funds are intended to provide education related services to LEA’s in which the learning environment was disrupted due to a traumatic crisis all cost must be in addition to cost the LEAs incurred in the absence of the December 27 wildfire so the example I gave of substitute teachers I imagine in most school districts you have sort of a regular cost built-in for substitute teachers again just making up numbers but for your school districts if you typically have five substitute teachers a day you would need to subtract those five substitute teachers a day from your request to the CDE so let’s say at the peak of the wildfires you needed 12 substitute teachers a day then your request through this application would only be for seven substitute teachers because you would need to include sort of your regular substitute allocation. So here are some examples of allowable expenses they have to be directly related to the December 27 wildfires, they are considered necessary to restore the learning environment and as I mentioned before cannot be funded by any other recovery funding or insurance reimbursement here are some examples: targeted mental health assessments referrals and services if you brought on temporary like crisis counselors on site more provided other services that theoretically is a reimbursable expense over time for teachers, counselors, law enforcement security officers, and other staff in our October SERv applications we certainly and understandably had many school districts you know note that for example they had additional custodial staff time but they didn’t designate that it was over time and so it’s important to specify, particularly for staff time, so this was time above and beyond their regular duties because of course you would normally without the incident of the fires need to support your custodial staff but let’s say that staff worked overtime to restore school to its learning environments that school could reopen, you would want to note the difference and only ask for reimbursement for that extra time for the overtime. Again substitute teachers could be an allowable expense. Labor costs needed to repair the learning environment, in most cases this is additional staff time cost to transport students to and from temporary facilities or temporary housing, cost to operative school an alternative site, so if you need to these additional portables or classroom space this also is theoretically allowable under this grant. And as I mentioned, there isn’t an exhaustive list of these allowable expenses so I would suggest that you err on the side of listing anything you think may be allowable and we will go through both the California Department of Education the US Department of Education and make a determination. And cost may be considered if they were incurred on or after the date that the incident began, starting in December 2017, so for some school districts they’ve needed to lease temporary space certainly throughout the rest of the school year and maybe into the next school year. One thing I will mention is that and it’s not clear on the needs assessment, and we’ll find a way to rectify this but the project SERV that CDE will receive and subsequently pass on to the school districts is for one year and so let’s say theoretically that we are funded on March 1st of 2018 probably won’t happen that quickly but let’s say that California is funded on March 1st, the grant then will be for 12 months after March 1st so claims can be from essentially March 1st of 2018 through February 28th of 2019 but costs can also go back to the date of the incident so really, cost can be from in my example the date of the incident from December 2017 all the way through theoretically February 28th of 2019. I hope that makes sense. Once you submit a needs assessment and we work with you to determine what costs are we can sort of pro-rate what the cost would be for those sort of more long-term expenses. All right so here are some examples of things that are not considered allowable under project SERV. so purchases of permanent value, or it’s what a few folks have referred to as “the stuff.” So computers, supplies, textbooks, buses you can certainly rent a van or a bus they cannot buy the bus or van in the Sonoma County fires we learned of course that many students and teachers lost their homes and of course as part of that their textbooks may have been in their home during the fire unfortunately textbooks are not something that can be considered reimbursable under this grant. Any construction related costs cannot be included and then a big one particularly for Northern California unfortunately that cannot be considered are things such as air quality testing, soot and smoke removal or abatement, the cost for air filters, face masks, and the reason particularly for these last two bullets is because these are expensive and certainly that we know that school districts likely incurred after the fire, but we believe should be covered either by private insurance or the FEMA public assistance program which is why they are not allowable through this grant. Again claims recoverable under your private insurance including any Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements many services normally provided by the LEA and any activity for which other recovery or insurance funds are available. So here’s an example that we actually borrowed from the state of Louisiana they’ve been great partners with us and thinking through how California would set up our grant application because of course they went through this in a big way in 2016. So you’ll see how they filled it out in the first line reimbursements for substitutes needed to replace displaced teachers and they talked about how this one particular school district had more than 100 staff just placed from their personal homes they talked about the number of students that would be benefited they didn’t believe that there were any other sources of funding for this reimbursement they guessed through a cost and then they listed the length of time they thought they would need funding for this reimbursement and then also at the bottom they listed overtime costs associated with the flood. One thing that probably would have been helpful in this final line is to detail a little further overtime costs for for what custodial staff school administrative staff, communication staff, you know whatever is applicable but to to detail a little further who those people were and for what duration of time because that is likely one that I will call your school district back and say can you just provide me a little more information like a breakdown and again it’s a very informal process which I know feels funny to a lot of us because often federal grants are typically very restrictive and you know have certain requirements, and this one just feels a little different and that’s by design. And here’s another example of from Louisiana but school districts releasing temporary space and then leasing school buses to resume somewhat normal activity for their school district. And so it’s also worth noting and I think this will be important particularly for a few districts and or a few counties in Southern California where there’s a high concentration is impacted private schools. School districts receiving funds under projects are must provide for equitable participation by private school students and teachers including engaging in timely and meaningful context consultation with appropriate private school officials. This is much like the private school consultation requirement of Title One and so it’s very important to include the private school community as you decide to create your needs assessment and submit your application. So as I mentioned it’s similar to the Title One requirement and the purpose of the consultation is to assess needs and provide services from the resources allocated by the grant. The way it will work if your LEA applies on behalf of a private school is that and this is an oversimplification but the private school will essentially be treated for the purposes of this grant like an additional school within your LEA and so, I’m just making this up, let’s say your school district receives $100,000 based on your needs assessment and the private school sum was $25,000 of that application, CDE will fund or allow for allowable expenses to your School District up for $100,000 but those claims from the private school have to be funneled through the local LEA and so the private school cannot claim directly to the California Department of Education for this reimbursement. A local agreement of some kind is going to have to be struck between the local LEA in the private school for the funds to flow first from the US Department of Education to CDE, and then most importantly from CDE to the local educational agency and then from the LEA to the private school. If anyone has more specific questions about that, feel free to contact me directly and we can talk through that at greater length so here’s my contact information where you can get in touch with me at any time about this grant. I am happy to answer any questions, I hope that the additional time provided allows folks to sort of collect all of their needs I know it’s just been a hectic and unusual time for for all of us and if there ways the CDE can be generally supportive, this email address is really important. The [email protected] many staff throughout our building check this account multiple times a day so for example I sit in our Government Affairs Division I check this account regularly but staff from our school facilities office check it our nutrition office checks it, special education, our school fiscal office which processes those J 13 waivers if you’re trying to recoup some of your allocations for your ADA we all check that account, so hopefully it’s meant to be a one-stop shop for your disaster emergency related questions to go to one place and the appropriate CDE contact person will respond to those inquiries. So just a couple housekeeping things, we will post this slide just a slide deck sometime tomorrow or later this week you can contact me at this emergency services address any time feel free to call me that’s my direct line at my desk, and please help us spread the word that the due date has been pushed back until the end of February until February 28th. So I see no questions I’ll wait just a moment to see if anyone wants to type those questions into the Q&A box, but other than that we will conclude the webinar for today. Thanks so much for joining. All right, well hearing no questions we will end the webinar and again feel free to contact me at any time thank you for your time this morning, bye bye.

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