Superintendent’s Memo #136-15

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

May 22, 2015

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) Educational Technology Notes Series XI, Series XII, Series XIII,  Series XIV, Series XV, and Series XVI, and School Security Equipment Grants Series III

The Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) has conducted the fifteenth sale of technology equipment notes, Series XV.  The proceeds from these notes provide the next installment of funds in the educational technology grant program, which provides support for school divisions to develop and implement the Standards of Learning (SOL) Web-based Technology Initiative.  The Series XV notes also include the Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative as well as funding for Series III of the school security equipment grant program reauthorized by the 2015 General Assembly.  Both of these programs will be discussed later in this memorandum.

The goal of the education technology grant program is to improve the instructional, remedial, and testing capabilities of the SOL in local school divisions and to increase the number of schools achieving full accreditation.  Proceeds of the Series XV notes are provided to:

  1. Establish a computer-based instructional and testing system for the SOL;

  2. Develop an Internet ready local area network (LAN) capability and  high speed Internet connectivity at high schools, followed by middle schools and then in elementary schools; and

  3. Establish a 5-to-1 student computer ratio for high schools, followed by middle schools and then in elementary schools.

School divisions are required to use the Series XV funds first to develop and maintain the capability to support the administration of online SOL testing for all students with the exception of students with a documented need for a paper SOL test.

In addition, for purposes of establishing or enhancing a computer-based instructional program supporting the SOL testing system, school divisions may use these grant funds to purchase handheld multifunctional computing devices that support a broad range of applications and that are controlled by operating systems providing full multimedia support and mobile Internet connectivity.  School divisions that elect to use these grant funds to purchase such qualifying handheld devices must continue to meet the online testing requirements outlined above.

Attachment A to this memorandum lists the estimated local grant allocations for the Series XV VPSA note issue.  These estimated allocations are based on the amended 2014-2016 biennial budget passed by the 2015 General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on March 26, 2015 (Chapter 665).  Grants to school divisions for the Series XV notes are based on $26,000 per eligible school and $50,000 per school division.  Eligible schools include those reporting fall membership as of September 30, 2014, as well as regional vocational, special education, and alternative education programs, academic year Governor’s Schools, and the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind.  Schools that serve only pre-kindergarten students are not eligible for this grant.

Eligibility for Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative Grants in Series XV

Chapter 665, 2015 Acts of Assembly, provides grants for schools that include a ninth grade that administered SOL tests in spring 2014, and that are not fully accredited for the second consecutive year based on school accreditation ratings in effect for fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015, or that have 15 percent of students in the English as a Second Language count and also have free lunch eligibility for the school of over one-third of the students.  Those qualifying schools receive: (1) a supplemental grant of $400 per student reported in ninth grade fall membership in a qualifying school for the purchase of a laptop or tablet computer device for that student and (2) a supplemental grant of $2,400 per qualifying school to purchase two content creation packages for teachers. Schools eligible to receive this supplemental grant in fiscal year 2015 shall continue to receive the grant for the number of subsequent years equaling the number of grades 9 through 12 in the qualifying school up to a maximum of four years.  Participating school divisions will assume recurring costs for electronic textbook purchases and maintenance.  Additional information on the schools that qualify for these additional funds is included in Attachment A.  The application for these grants is available, for eligible schools only, on the Department of Education’s (DOE) Web site at:
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/technology/technology_initiatives/e-learning_backpack/index.shtml.

Local Match Requirements

Localities are required to provide a match of funds equal to 20 percent of the total grant amount provided to the school division, including the e-Learning Backpack Initiative grants.  At least 25 percent of the local match must be used for teacher training in the use of technology funded with the educational technology grants.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction is authorized to reduce the required local match for school divisions with a composite index below 0.2000.  The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind is not required to provide a 20 percent match to its grant amount.

School divisions that administer 100 percent of SOL tests online in all elementary, middle, and high schools may use up to 75 percent of their required local match to purchase targeted technology-based interventions.  Such interventions may include the necessary technology and software to support online learning, technology-based content systems, content management systems, technology equipment systems, information/data management systems, and other appropriate technologies that support the individual needs of students.  School divisions that receive the e-Learning Backpack Initiative grants must use the 20 percent required local match of funds in qualifying schools to purchase laptop or tablet computer devices for ninth-grade students reported in fall membership and content creation packages for teachers.

Reimbursement Process

The VPSA sold the spring 2015 Educational Technology Notes, Series XV, on May 5, 2015, and closed the notes transaction on May 19, 2015.  Proceeds of the Series XV notes are now available for reimbursement to divisions for qualifying expenditures from the division’s reimbursement account established under the Virginia State Non-Arbitrage Program (SNAP).

There are a limited number of business days between the closing date and the end of fiscal year 2015 on June 30, 2015.  Therefore, to ensure sufficient time to process the school division reimbursement requests that need to be received by June 30, 2015, such reimbursement requests must be received by the Department of Education electronically, as well as the original signature page mailed to the Department, by June 20, 2015.

Consistent with previous VPSA notes, payments to school divisions and regional programs will be made on a reimbursement basis only.  School divisions and regional programs must first complete payments for the qualifying equipment purchased and then file a Series XV reimbursement request with the Department of Education.  School divisions and regional programs that adopted a reimbursement resolution and made expenditures prior to the issuance of the Series XV notes are required to certify that all reimbursements are qualifying reimbursements.  School divisions and regional programs may not be reimbursed for qualifying expenditures incurred more than 60 days prior to the adoption of a reimbursement resolution.  Please note that reimbursements for the Series XV issue for regional vocational, regional special education, Governor’s Schools, and regional alternative education programs may be made directly to the regional programs through separate SNAP reimbursement accounts set up specifically for regional programs.  If separate accounts for regional programs are established, school divisions will not be required to deposit the regional programs’ share of the note proceeds in their account and then pass those proceeds on to the regional program.

The Series XV reimbursement request form is a downloadable Excel template.  This file is available on the Department of Education’s Web site at:
 
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/edu_technology_notes/index.shtml.

The Series XV reimbursement form includes certification provisions that incorporate federal and state requirements regarding capital expenditures that qualify for reimbursement.  School divisions are primarily responsible for determining whether requests for reimbursement are permissible under federal and state requirements.  School division officials should carefully read and initial the certification provisions to ensure that none of their reimbursement requests violate any of the stated provisions.

Divisions are not required to submit copies of supporting reimbursement documentation to the Department of Education because the reimbursement request form incorporates the certification provisions.  However, copies of all supporting documents (invoices, work orders, statements, etc.) for which reimbursement is to be made must be retained by the school division for at least five years in the event an audit is required.  All reimbursement requests for the VPSA Series XV notes issue must be made using the above-referenced Series XV form.  The Department of Education will review the reimbursement request and, when approved, file the request on behalf of the school division (or regional program) with the Virginia State Non-Arbitrage Program (SNAP), which serves as the investment and account manager for the note proceeds.  Please note that no reimbursement requests for the Series XV notes will be approved until all of the division’s grant allocations from Series XI (spring 2011), Series XII (spring 2012), Series XIII (spring 2013), and Series XIV (spring 2014) are fully drawn down.

Prior to SNAP executing the actual payment of proceeds to school divisions or regional programs, school divisions and regional programs must have completed the SNAP VPSA Technology Notes Withdrawal Instructions form to provide their bank routing number and account number directly to the State Non-Arbitrage Program (SNAP).  If you need to make changes to wire instructions previously submitted to SNAP, please complete and sign the form and return it to SNAP prior to requesting any further reimbursements.  The completed form should be faxed to SNAP representatives at 1-800-252-9551.  If you have not completed this form, the Department of Education will hold all requests for reimbursements until SNAP confirms receipt of your certified bank account information. SNAP will maintain all bank information and, if needed, will assist divisions who need to amend such information. If you have any questions regarding the SNAP VPSA Technology Notes Withdrawal Instructions form, please contact SNAP at 1-800-570-SNAP.

Proceeds from the Series XI, XII, XIII, XIV, and XV issues may not be used for elementary schools until all middle schools in your division have achieved Stage 2 Middle School Readiness Certification. All high schools have achieved full readiness certification.  See Administrative Superintendents. Memo No. 27, dated May 17, 2002, for additional information on certification procedures. Procedures for achieving all levels of school readiness certification are explained in the following document:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/technology/sol_technology_initiative/readiness/readiness_documentation.pdf.

The School Readiness Certification workbook is a downloadable Excel template.  This file is available on the Department of Education’s Web site at:
 
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/technology/sol_technology_initiative/index.shtml.

If expenditures for middle or elementary schools are submitted prior to achieving the appropriate certifications, those expenditures cannot be reimbursed until after the readiness certifications have been achieved.

Please submit all Series XV requests for reimbursement using the Series XV reimbursement request form referenced above.  E-mail your completed request to Christina Snellings at VPSA@doe.virginia.gov.  In addition, please mail a signed copy of the reimbursement form to the following address:

Christina Snellings
Budget Office
Virginia Department of Education
James Monroe Building, 25th Floor
101 North 14th Street
Richmond, VA 23219

No requests for reimbursement will be processed until the Department of Education has received both the electronic Series XV reimbursement request form and your signed hardcopy Series XV form with each certification initialed.

School Security Equipment Grant Program

In addition to the grants provided to support the SOL Web-based Technology Initiative and Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative grants, the Chapter 665 budget also authorizes $6.0 million for Series III of the school security equipment grants as part of Series XV.  Proceeds of these additional equipment notes will be used to help offset the related local costs associated with the purchase of appropriate security equipment that will improve and help ensure the safety of students attending public schools in Virginia.

School divisions are required to use these funds to purchase security equipment that will be installed in eligible schools.  Grant funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis through any online application contained in the Single Sign-on for Web-based Systems (SSWS) portal.  The grants cannot be used to pay for security equipment that is not included or described in the grant application or for other type of school construction work (e.g., building renovations or alterations) or to cover any professional costs (e.g., architectural and engineering fees).  The addition of any other architectural brick and mortar projects will result in the disqualification of a school division’s grant application.  Eligible schools must be scheduled to remain open for at least five more years and there be no planned renovations/additions scheduled for the next five years that would cause the security equipment being requested to become obsolete.

These Series III grants will be awarded on a competitive basis through division applications submitted to the Department of Education via SSWS by August 1, 2015.  Divisions may be awarded up to $100,000 in grant funding for use in eligible schools and regional programs.

Localities are required to provide a match for these funds equal to 25 percent of the grant amount. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is authorized to reduce the required local match for school divisions with a composite index of local ability-to-pay below 0.2000. The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind is exempt from the match requirement.

Guidelines for the program and the Series III application form to apply for funding are available on the DOE Web site at:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/facility_construction/security_equipment_grants/index.shtml.

Educational Technology Notes, Series XIV (Spring 2014):

As initially announced in Superintendent’s Memo #136-14, dated May 23, 2014, the Series XIV notes were sold by the VPSA in May 2014.  Proceeds of the Series XIV notes were available to school divisions for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures on and after the closing date of May 22, 2014.  For grant allocations of Series XIV VPSA notes, see Attachment A to Superintendent’s Memo #136-14, dated May 23, 2014.  No reimbursement requests for the Series XIV notes will be approved until the division’s Educational Technology Notes Series XI, XII, and XIII proceeds are fully spent. Attachment E to this memorandum provides the status of the Series XIV grant balances.

For divisions and regional programs that have not completed reimbursement of expenditures from the XIV VPSA notes, the procedures outlined in Superintendent’s Memo #136-14, dated May 23, 2014, should be followed and the Series XIV reimbursement request form should be used.  The Series XIV reimbursement request form is a downloadable Excel template available on the Department of Education’s Web site located at:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/edu_technology_notes/index.shtml.

Educational Technology Notes, Series XIII (Spring 2013):

As initially announced in Superintendent’s Memo #146-13, dated May 24, 2013, the Series XIII notes were sold by the VPSA in May 2013.  Proceeds of the Series XIII notes were available to school divisions for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures on and after the closing date of May 23, 2013.  For grant allocations of Series XIII VPSA notes, see Attachment A to Superintendent’s Memo #146-13, dated May 24, 2013.  No reimbursement requests for the Series XIII notes will be approved until the division’s Educational Technology Notes Series, XI, and XII proceeds are fully spent. Attachment D to this memorandum provides the status of the Series XIII grant balances.

For divisions and regional programs that have not completed reimbursement of expenditures from the XIII VPSA notes, the procedures outlined in Superintendent’s Memo #146-13, dated May 24, 2013, should be followed and the Series XIII reimbursement request form should be used.  The Series XIII reimbursement request form is a downloadable Excel template available on the Department of Education’s Web site located at:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/edu_technology_notes/index.shtml.

Educational Technology Notes, Series XII (Spring 2012):

As initially announced in Superintendent's Memo #133-12, dated May 18, 2012, the Series XII notes were sold by the VPSA in May 2012.  Proceeds of the Series XII notes were available to school divisions for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures on and after the closing date of June 7, 2012.  For grant allocations of Series XII VPSA notes, see Attachment A to Superintendent's Memo #133-12, dated May 18, 2012.  No reimbursement requests for the Series XII notes will be approved until the division’s Educational Technology Notes Series XI proceeds are fully spent.  Attachment C to this memorandum provides the status of the Series XII grant balances.

For divisions and regional programs that have not completed reimbursement of expenditures from the Series XII VPSA notes, the procedures outlined in Superintendent's Memo #133-12, dated May 18, 2012, should be followed and the Series XII reimbursement request form should be used.  The Series XII reimbursement request form is a downloadable Excel template available on the Department of Education’s Web site located at:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/edu_technology_notes/index.shtml.

Educational Technology Notes, Series XI (Spring 2011):

As initially announced in Superintendent's Memo #129-11, dated April 29, 2011, the Series XI notes were sold by the VPSA in May 2011.  Proceeds of the Series XI notes were available to school divisions for reimbursement of qualifying expenditures on and after the closing date of May 19, 2011.  For grant allocations of Series XI VPSA notes, see Attachment A to Superintendent's Memo #129-11, dated April 29, 2011.  No reimbursement requests for the Series XII, XIII, XIV, or XV notes will be approved until the division’s Educational Technology Notes Series XI proceeds are fully spent.   Attachment B to this memorandum provides the status of the Series XI grant balances.

For divisions and regional programs that have not completed reimbursement of expenditures from the Series XI VPSA notes, the procedures outlined in Superintendent's Memo #129-11, dated April 29, 2011, should be followed and the Series XI reimbursement request form should be used.  The Series XI reimbursement request form is a downloadable Excel template available on the Department of Education’s Web site located at:

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/edu_technology_notes/index.shtml.

Please note that the Department of Education has set a deadline of April 1, 2016, to complete all reimbursements from the Series XI notes.  Series XI note proceeds allocated to school divisions and regional programs that have not been reimbursed from SNAP by April 1, 2016, will be used by the Department of Treasury to pay debt service on the notes and will no longer be available to reimburse the school divisions and regional programs.  In order to accomplish all Series XI reimbursements by the April 1, 2016, deadline, requests for reimbursement from the Series XI proceeds must be received by the Department electronically and the original signature page sent to the Department, as indicated below, by March 15, 2016, to ensure sufficient time to process the requests.

Educational Technology Notes, Series XVI (Spring 2016):

The amended 2014-2016 biennial budget (Chapter 665, 2015 Acts of Assembly) includes funding to continue the educational technology notes program in fiscal year 2016 with debt service paid through the Literary Fund.  The Chapter 665 budget includes Virginia Public Schools Authority (VPSA) equipment notes totaling approximately $71.2 million in fiscal year 2016 to be issued in the spring of 2016 as Series XVI.

The fiscal year 2016 budget maintains grant amounts at $26,000 per eligible school (i.e., for K-12 schools reporting fall membership as of September 30, 2015, as well as regional vocational, special education, and alternative education programs, academic year Governor’s Schools, and the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind) and $50,000 per school division.  The fiscal year 2016 budget also authorizes funding for supplemental grants supporting the Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative, which is described below.  Please note that the supplemental grants for schools not fully accredited that were available in Series XI, XII, and XIII were no longer available beginning with Series XIV.

As was authorized in the Series XV issue notes, Chapter 665 authorizes $6.0 million from the Series XVI notes for division grants to fund school security equipment grants.  These grants will be awarded on a competitive basis through applications submitted to the Department of Education by August 1, 2016.  Divisions may be awarded up to $100,000 in grant funding for eligible schools and regional programs.

Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative Supplemental Grant

Schools that administer SOL tests in Spring 2015 and that are not fully accredited for the second consecutive year based on school accreditation ratings in effect for fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016 will qualify to participate in the e-Learning Backpack Initiative in fiscal year 2016.  Schools eligible for the supplemental grants in previous fiscal years shall continue to be eligible for the remaining years of their grant award.  Schools eligible to receive this supplemental grant in fiscal year 2016 shall continue to receive the grant for the number of subsequent years equaling the number of grades 9 through 12 in the qualifying school up to a maximum of four years (to support schoolwide implementation).  Schools eligible to receive these grants for a period of up to four years beginning in fiscal year 2014 will not be eligible to receive a separate award in the future once the original award period has concluded.  Schools that are fully accredited or that are new schools with conditional accreditation in their first year are not eligible to receive this supplemental grant.  Eligible schools receiving this grant will also continue to receive the existing $26,000 grant supporting the SOL Web-based Technology Initiative.  School divisions with schools eligible for this initiative may begin implementation during the 2015-2016 school year prior to the availability of the Series XVI proceeds by executing a reimbursement resolution.  However, this will require a local source of funds to pay expenditures pending the availability of the notes proceeds at year end.

The list of eligible schools and estimated grant amounts for the e-Learning Backpack Initiative to be funded through the Series XVI notes will be available in fall 2015.  A separate superintendent’s memorandum providing additional details on the e-Learning Backpack Initiative is forthcoming.

Other Series XVI Information

All program requirements for the Series XVI notes, including the qualifying schools, qualifying use of proceeds, local matching requirements and the reimbursement process, are all the same as the Series XV notes described above.

The fiscal year 2016 budget updates the number of schools eligible for funding under the VPSA technology grants.  Funding to school divisions for the VPSA technology grant program was increased by $4.6 million in fiscal year 2016 based on an anticipated increase in the number of eligible schools in fiscal year 2016.  Attachment F to this memorandum lists the estimated local grant allocations for the Series XVI notes.

School divisions that have spent all of the Series XI, Series XII, Series XIII, Series XIV, and Series XV notes proceeds and that have adopted a reimbursement resolution for the Series XVI (Spring 2016) notes issue may make purchases in support of the SOL Web-based Technology Initiative to be reimbursed from Series XVI proceeds; however, please be aware that the note proceeds will not be available for reimbursement until after the closing of the notes sale, which will likely be in May or June 2016.  Please be aware that, prior to incurring any costs, the local school board must state its intention to use the proceeds of the equipment notes to reimburse qualifying expenditures, including for the Virginia e-Learning Backpack Initiative supplemental grants.  This must be done through a reimbursement resolution adopted by the local school board.  A sample resolution is provided as Attachment G to this memorandum.  Please note that divisions may not reimburse themselves for project-related expenditures incurred more than 60 days prior to the adoption of the reimbursement resolution.

Required Signatures for VPSA Educational Technology Equipment Reimbursements

All reimbursement requests for reimbursement of the Educational Technology Equipment Notes (any active series) must contain the signature of the division superintendent or the superintendent’s designee.  Please verify the designee information contained in the Single Sign-On for Web Systems (SSWS), Educational Registry Application for accuracy.  The DOE will only accept the signature of staff registered in the application.

The DOE is still in the process of developing a VPSA Technology Notes reimbursement application for SSWS that is scheduled for release in late fiscal year 2015 or early fiscal year 2016.  This online application will also require approval of reimbursement requests by staff listed in SSWS.

If you have questions relating to the financing or determination of qualifying reimbursements, please call the budget office staff at (804) 225-2025.  If you have questions relating to qualifying equipment (i.e., hardware, software) that may be purchased from the VPSA note proceeds, please call Mark Saunders in the Division of Instruction at (804) 786-0307.

SRS/cs

Attachments:

  1. Series XV VPSA Notes Issue Estimated Local Grant Allocation (PDF)
  2. Series XI VPSA Notes Issue Local Grant Balances (PDF)
  3. Series XII VPSA Notes Issue Local Grant Balances (PDF)
  4. Series XIII VPSA Notes Issue Local Grant Balances (PDF)
  5. Series XIV VPSA Notes Issue Local Grant Balances (PDF)
  6. Series XVI VPSA Notes Issue Estimated Local Grant Allocation (PDF)
  7. Sample Reimbursement Resolution (Word)