DANVILLE, Ill. (WCCU) — Project Success, an after-school organization, in one Central Illinois county is cutting six schools after a funding error with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and they may not be the last.
Project Success Vermillion County is ending 6 of its 18 programs in August once their summer programs are completed. These 6 programs are 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) and a part of a grant cycle whose funding expires at the end of June this year. Project Success Vermilion County was expecting a grant renewal but instead was met with a letter from ISBE saying there was not enough funding due to an internal error.
“There was an overspending by ISBE by $27 million which won’t allow for the FY19 cohorts these 6 schools and other programs across Illinois to be funded again,” explained Kimberly David, associate director of Project Success Vermilion County. “And then on top of that there’s another 15 million dollar deficit that we don’t know how that will affect our programs, other programs across the county that we have contracts for to continue.”
21st CCLC grants are funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and administered by ISBE.
David says on April 10th she and her team were notified of the deficit and that they would have to shut down the programs in the grant cycle expiring in the summer. Although they are trying to get other funding, David says they need $12 million to fund the programs in this grant cycle across the state, and it is difficult without the grant.
“We were in Springfield last week and we, I spoke in front of the Illinois State Board of Education, and then we met with our legislatures to just asking them to fill in that gap of that $12 million to be able to continue these programs throughout the state of Illinois. The issue is that you know in these communities there is no other funding source as big as 21st century to sustain, fully sustain these programs,” said David.
Project Success helps students with homework help, credit recovery, social and emotional learning, and more. With the closure of these 6 school programs, hundreds of students will be impacted, and David is worried they won’t be able to get the help they need.
“It’s gonna impact over 500 students in Vermilion County and over 12,000 in the entire state of Illinois. I’m just afraid these students aren’t gonna have as much support as they need, they won’t have as much support as they need after school, and so I think we are gonna see grades go down, test scores go down and, I think just their overall mental health also will be affected,” David said.
Fox Illinois reached out to ISBE about the lack of funding and they replied with a statement saying in part quote, “ISBE did not adequately forecast the fiscal impact of these programmatic decisions, resulting in an over-commitment of funds and late notice to this FY 2019 cohort of grantees that there would not be sufficient funding for renewals or new competition in FY 2024. We recognize the challenges that this untimely communication has caused and we are providing technical assistance, guidance, and support to grantees regarding sustainability outside of new 21st CCLC grant funding.”
The full statement is attached at the bottom of the article.
The specific schools in Vermilion County losing their project success programs are Judith Giacoma Elementary School in Westville, Pinecrest Elementary and Mary Miller Junior High in Georgetown, and Oakwood Grade, Junior High, and High School in Oakwood.
Full ISBE statement:
“ISBE awarded 21st Century Community Learning Centers grantees in FY 2019 at $9.7 million per year for five years. The five-year grant cycle for this cohort concludes this year in FY 2023. There is not federal funding available to offer renewals or to offer a new grant competition for FY 2024. Renewals are not guaranteed, and every grantee includes a sustainability plan in their application identifying the resources available to maintain and continue programming once the grant concludes.
Given the availability of funding in past years for renewals, we understand that grantees expected the same opportunity in FY 2024. However, in recent years, ISBE allowed grantees to carry over the unspent balance from the previous year’s grant into the next fiscal year due to the pandemic and ran new grant competitions. ISBE did not adequately forecast the fiscal impact of these programmatic decisions, resulting in an over commitment of funds and late notice to this FY 2019 cohort of grantees that there would not be sufficient funding for renewals or a new competition in FY 2024. We recognize the challenges that this untimely communication has caused and we are providing technical assistance, guidance, and support to grantees regarding sustainability outside of new 21st CCLC grant funding.
ISBE projects that the over commitment of funds could result in a shortfall of up to $15 million, depending on the final expenditures from Project Year 2023 grants. ISBE has reached out to the U.S. Department of Education about utilizing ARP ESSER state set aside funds to address the shortfall. This would allow ISBE to meet its obligations to grantees in FY 2024, but would still not make a renewal or new grant competition possible for FY 2024 for those grantees whose five-year grant cycle concludes in FY 2023. Renewals and new competitions are never guaranteed and are only offered in years when sufficient funds are available. (ISBE did not offer new 21st CCLC Grant competitions in about half of the last 10 years.)
The 21st CCLC grants are designed to initiate new programming and are not intended to sustain programming long-term, which is why each grantee’s application includes a sustainability plan explaining how the grantee will continue programming after the grant concludes. We are committed to better forecasting and to better and more timely communication with grantees to keep this situation from occurring in the future.”
Other state and federal funds available to support afterschool programming include:
After School Programs—$20 Million
After School Matters—$4 Million
CURE After School Programs—$10 Million
CURE Phillip Jackson Freedom Schools—$17 Million
ARP Community Partnership Grant—$100 Million
ARP ESSER SEA Reserve—$50.5 Million
ARP Learning Loss 20% Requirement—$910 Million
- Schools are required to reserve 20% of their ARP ESSER Award for activities related to learning loss, which includes after school programming