Federal 21st Century Grants Impacted by Deficit
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced today that due to the over commitment of federal funds for 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) in 2015-16, the MDE will not issue new grants for the 2016-17 school year and may have to curtail or discontinue grants to continuing grantees.
The MDE is facing a deficit up to $19 million in 21st Century grant funds as a result of a shortfall for the 2015-16 school year.
The 21st Century grants provide federal funding for the establishment of community learning centers that provide academic, artistic and cultural enrichment opportunities for students, particularly those who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools. Typically, these programs are offered after school.
Statewide, 110 after-school programs received 21st Century grants in 2015-16. The multiyear grants are renewable for up to five years, pending available funds, though matching funds are required by the grantee in years three, four and five as the percentage of federal funds is reduced. Some programs receive more than one grant. Mississippi was awarded $14.1 million for 21st Century programs for the 2015-16 school year.
The error occurred when MDE’s Office of Federal Programs (OFP) issued 46 new grants in 2015-16 without budgeting for 65 grantees that were continuing from the previous year. OFP issued reimbursements from 21st Century and Title I funds to both new and continuing grantees, which created the deficit. While funds were taken from both 21st Century and Title I accounting sources, the MDE anticipates no impact on Title I disbursements to districts.
The MDE is working with the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to develop a comprehensive plan to fill the deficit while attempting to minimize the impact to grantees. Details of the plan will be released once they are finalized.
“We are working rapidly and seriously to take steps that will minimize impact to grantees, to ensure accountability for individuals who ignored financial checks and balances, and to put systems in place to ensure accurate future budgeting,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
“My highest priority is to ensure we serve schools, families and taxpayers with integrity,” Wright said, noting that individuals responsible for the error had been terminated.
Districts and organizations that received 21st Century grants in 2015-16 are not authorized to commit 21st Century grant funds for the 2016-17 school year until further notice.
“The MDE takes seriously the trust and accountability expected of a state agency that serves the children and families of Mississippi,” Wright said. “The MDE realizes that school districts and community programs across the state depend on 21st Century grants to provide after-school programming and regrets the position in which grantees have been placed.”A list of providers that received 21st Century grants in 2015-16 can be found here.