[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 247 (Tuesday, December 23, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78757-78761]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-30578]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Grant Program

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.184E.

AGENCY: Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities and requirements.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools 
proposes priorities and requirements for the Readiness and Emergency 
Management for Schools (REMS) grant program. The Assistant Deputy 
Secretary may use one or more of these priorities or requirements for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2009 and later years. The REMS program 
was established in FY 2003 to provide resources to local educational 
agencies (LEAs) to supportimproving and enhancing emergency management 
plans. Since the initial competition, the program has undergone several 
program refinements designed to respond to changes in the emergency 
management field and the identification of key emergency management 
priorities. In an effort to continue to refine the REMS program, we are 
publishing these revised priorities and requirements. We propose this 
action in order to focus Federal financial assistance on supporting 
grants that will increase the capacity of LEAs to prevent and mitigate, 
prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. This action is 
also intended to focus funding on LEAs that have not previously 
received funding under this program and to establish other core program 
requirements.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before January 22, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about the proposed priorities and 
requirements to Sara Strizzi, U.S. Department of Education, 1391 Speer 
Boulevard, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80204. Telephone: (303) 346-0924.
    If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the 
following address: sara.strizzi@ed.gov. You must include the term ``FY 
09 REMS NPP'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sara Strizzi. Telephone: (303) 346-
0924 or by e-mail: sara.strizzi@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the notice of final priorities and requirements, we urge you 
to identify clearly the specific proposed priority or requirement that 
each comment addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities and requirements. Please let us know of any further ways we 
could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while 
preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about this notice in room 10001, 550 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4

[[Page 78758]]

p.m., Washington, DC, time, Monday through Friday of each week except 
Federal holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: Past emergencies, such as the events of 
September 11, 2001, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and emergencies 
related to other natural and man-made hazards, reinforce the need for 
schools and communities to plan for traditional crises and emergencies, 
as well as other catastrophic events. The REMS grant program provides 
funds to LEAs to establish an emergency management process that focuses 
on reviewing and strengthening emergency management plans, within the 
framework or the four phases of emergency management (Prevention-
Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery). The program also 
provides resources to LEAs to provide training for staff on emergency 
management procedures and requires that LEAs develop comprehensive all-
hazards emergency management plans in collaboration with community 
partners including local law enforcement, public safety, public health, 
and mental health agencies, and local government.
    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 7131.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 299.

Proposed Priorities

    This notice contains three proposed priorities.

Proposed Priority 1--LEA Projects Designed To Develop and Enhance Local 
Emergency Management Capacity

Background

    The REMS grant program was established to provide Federal financial 
assistance to support LEAs in improving and strengthening emergency 
management plans at the LEA and school-building levels. Because 
emergency management planning is a continuous process in which plans 
should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis, the REMS program 
seeks to support activities designed to assist LEAs in developing 
sustainable emergency management efforts. A key aspect of ensuring 
sustainability is increasing LEA capacity to implement all aspects of 
emergency management, including conducting vulnerability assessments, 
developing and updating written emergency procedures, training staff, 
and conducting drills and exercises. Working with local community 
partners, such as law enforcement, public safety, mental health, and 
public health agencies, and local government, and ensuring that LEA 
staff possess the requisite knowledge and expertise to carry out key 
emergency management tasks are critical in ensuring sustainability.
    Since the initial competition under this program in FY 2003, our 
experience in reviewing grantee program activities and outcomes 
suggests that grantees whose projects do not focus on developing the 
capacity of LEA staff and first responders are likely to find it 
challenging to sustain their project activities and continue to meet 
the LEA's ongoing emergency management needs. Based upon this 
experience, we have identified a need to focus this program more 
specifically on increasing local emergency management capacity.
    Proposed Priority: Under this proposed priority, we support LEA 
projects designed to create, strengthen, or improve emergency 
management plans at the LEA and school-building levels and build the 
capacity of LEA staff so that the LEA can continue the implementation 
of key emergency management functions after the period of Federal 
funding. Projects must include a plan to create, strengthen, or improve 
emergency management plans, at the LEA and school-building levels, and 
within the framework of the four phases of emergency management: 
Prevention-Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Projects 
must also include: (1) Training for school personnel in emergency 
management procedures; (2) coordination, and the use of partnerships, 
with local law enforcement, public safety, public health, and mental 
health agencies, and local government to assist in the development of 
emergency management plans at the LEA and school-building levels; (3) a 
plan to sustain the local partnerships after the period of Federal 
assistance; (4) a plan for communicating school emergency management 
policies and reunification procedures for parents/guardians and their 
children following an emergency; and (5) a written plan for improving 
LEA capacity to sustain the emergency management process through 
ongoing training of personnel and the continual review of policies and 
procedures.

Proposed Priority 2--Priority for LEAs That Have Not Previously 
Received a Grant Under the REMS Program (CFDA 84.184E) and Are Located 
in an Urban Areas Security Initiative Jurisdiction

Background

    In FY 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established the 
Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) to focus Federal preparedness 
resources on the unique planning, equipment, training, and exercise 
needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas. The intent of the UASI 
is to create a sustainable national model program that will enhance 
security and overall preparedness in order to prevent, respond to, and 
recover from acts of terrorism. Jurisdictions' inclusion in the UASI is 
determined by a formula using a combination of current threat 
estimates, critical assets within the specific urban area, and 
population density.
    The Governor of each State has designated a State Administrative 
Agency (SAA) as the entity responsible for applying for, and 
administering, funds under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
Grant Program (which includes the UASI). The SAA is also responsible 
for defining the geographic borders for jurisdictions included in the 
UASI.
    Ensuring that LEAs are adequately prepared for multiple hazards is 
a significant national concern. LEAs located in vulnerable, high-
density areas have unique emergency management planning needs. While 
many LEAs in UASI jurisdictions have received funding under the REMS 
program in prior years, a number of LEAs located in UASI jurisdictions 
have not received the resources needed to improve and enhance their 
emergency management plans. In order to help meet the needs of these 
LEAs, we propose a priority for LEAs, including educational services 
agencies (ESAs), that have not previously received a grant under this 
program and are located within UASI jurisdictions.
    Proposed Priority: We give a priority to applications from LEAs 
that (1) have not yet received a grant under this program (CFDA 
84.184E) and (2) are located in whole or in part within Urban Areas 
Security Initiative (UASI) jurisdictions, as determined by the U.S. 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Applicants, including 
educational services agencies (ESAs), must meet both of these criteria 
in order to meet this priority. Under a consortium application, all 
members of the LEA consortium, including any

[[Page 78759]]

ESAs, must meet both criteria to meet this priority.
    Because DHS's determination of UASI jurisdictions may change from 
year to year, applicants under this priority must refer to the most 
recent list of UASI jurisdictions published by DHS when submitting 
their applications. In any notice inviting applications using this 
priority, the Department will provide applicants with information 
necessary to access the most recent DHS list of UASI jurisdictions.

Proposed Priority 3--Priority for Applicants That Have Not Previously 
Received a Grant Under the REMS Program (CFDA 84.184E)

Background

    Ensuring that schools are attempting to prevent or mitigate, 
prepared to respond to, and equipped to recover from emergency 
situations that may arise from multiple hazards, including natural and 
man-made, is an issue of national importance. Since FY 2003, 606 
projects have received funding under the REMS grant program to improve 
and enhance emergency management plans, a significant number but a 
small percentage of the total number of LEAs within the United States. 
To address the emergency management planning needs of LEAs that have 
not previously received funding under this program, we propose a 
priority for LEAs, including educational services agencies (ESAs), that 
have not yet received a grant under this program.
    By establishing this priority, we hope to ensure that REMS grant 
funds reach greater numbers of schools and students whose emergency 
management planning needs have not previously been addressed.
    Proposed Priority: We give priority to applications from LEAs that 
have not previously received a grant under this program (CFDA 84.184E). 
Applicants, including educational service agencies (ESAs), that have 
received funding under this program directly, or as the lead agency or 
as a partner in a consortium application under this program, will not 
meet this priority. Under a consortium application, all members of the 
LEA consortium must meet this criterion to meet this priority.

Types of Priorities

    When inviting applications for a competition using one or more 
priorities, we designate the type of each priority as absolute, 
competitive preference, or invitational through a notice in the Federal 
Register. The effect of each type of priority follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by (1) 
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the 
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) 
selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of 
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority. 
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a 
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Proposed Requirements

Background

    The REMS program is intended to provide resources to LEAs to assist 
in the development of comprehensive, sustainable emergency management 
plans at the LEA and school-building levels. Creating and maintaining 
such plans should be accomplished through close collaboration between 
the LEA and local community partners and should be coordinated with 
other State and local emergency management efforts. Collaboration and 
coordination at the local level will ensure that emergency management 
plans are customized to address local risks and vulnerabilities, taking 
local resources, assets, and response times into consideration, and 
will prevent duplication of effort.
    Further under the REMS program, all LEAs will develop customized 
emergency management plans at the LEA and school-building levels that 
include plans for addressing the outbreak of infectious diseases, plans 
for ensuring food safety, and plans for addressing the needs of 
individuals with disabilities in an emergency.
    Preventing infectious diseases and ensuring a safe and healthy 
school environment is a significant component of emergency management 
planning. In addition to causing widespread illness, an especially 
severe influenza pandemic could result in widespread school closings, 
absenteeism, and disruptions to the learning environment. Whether or 
not a pandemic strikes, seasonal influenza and other infectious 
diseases continue to pose a concern with respect to the health of 
students as well as the functioning of schools. Although it may be 
difficult to prevent a widespread pandemic or other infectious disease 
outbreak, the effects can be mitigated through proper prevention and 
planning strategies.
    The protection of school food supplies against intentional 
contaminants is another critical component of emergency management. 
Effective food defense planning protects against intentional 
contamination of food, water, or facilities through the introduction of 
chemical or biological hazards by individuals seeking to harm students 
and staff. To help protect school food supplies, emergency management 
plans should include a written food defense plan designed to protect 
food storage, preparation, and delivery areas.
    Comprehensive emergency management plans should include procedures 
that address the communication, medical, and evacuation needs of 
individuals with disabilities. Such procedures should be customized for 
each individual based upon input from parents and guardians, teachers, 
first responders, and the individuals themselves. Schools may also need 
to develop general plans for individuals with disabilities for use in 
congregate settings such as athletic events, graduations, or community 
meetings.
    Emergency management plans should be based on the most current 
emergency management practices as established by the National Incident 
Management System (NIMS). In accordance with Homeland Security 
Presidential Directive/HSPD-5, the NIMS provides a consistent approach 
for Federal, State, and local governments to work effectively and 
efficiently together to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover 
from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity. 
Ensuring that public agencies at all levels of government, including 
LEAs, are implementing common emergency management principles, 
terminology, and organizational processes is critical to ensuring an 
effective and efficient response to an emergency.
    Implementation of the NIMS is a dynamic process that will continue 
to evolve over time. In order to receive Federal preparedness funding 
under the REMS program, LEAs must cooperate with the efforts of their 
communities to meet the minimum NIMS requirements established for each 
fiscal year.

Proposed Requirements

    The Assistant Deputy Secretary proposes the following requirements 
for this program. We may apply one or more of these requirements in any 
year in which this program is in effect.

[[Page 78760]]

    Partner Agreements: To be considered for a grant award, an 
applicant must include in its application an agreement that details the 
participation of each of the following five community-based partners: 
The law enforcement agency, the public safety agency, the public health 
agency, the mental health agency, and the head of the applicant's local 
government (for example the mayor, city manager, or county executive). 
The agreement must include a description of each partner's roles and 
responsibilities in improving and strengthening emergency management 
plans at the LEA and school-building levels, a description of each 
partner's commitment to the continuation and continuous improvement of 
emergency management plans at the LEA and school-building levels, and 
the signature of an authorized representative of the LEA and each 
partner acknowledging the agreement. For consortium applications, each 
LEA to be served by the grant must submit a complete set of partner 
agreements with the signature of an authorized representative of the 
LEA and each corresponding partner acknowledging the agreement.
    If one or more of the five partners listed in this requirement is 
not present in the applicant's community, or cannot feasibly 
participate, the agreement must explain the absence of each missing 
partner. To be considered eligible for funding, however, an application 
must include a signed agreement between the LEA, a law enforcement 
partner, and at least one of the other required partners (public safety 
agency, public health agency, mental health agency, or the head of the 
local government).
    Applications that fail to include the required agreement, including 
information on partners' roles and responsibilities and on their 
commitment to continuation and continuous improvement (with signatures 
and explanations for missing signatures as specified above), will not 
be read.
    Although this program requires partnerships with other parties, 
administrative direction and fiscal control for the project must remain 
with the LEA.
    Coordination with State or Local Homeland Security Plan: All 
emergency management plans receiving funding under this program must be 
coordinated with the Homeland Security Plan of the State or locality in 
which the LEA is located. To ensure that emergency services are 
coordinated, and to avoid duplication of effort within States and 
localities, applicants must include in their applications an assurance 
that the LEA will coordinate with and follow the requirements of their 
State or local Homeland Security Plan for emergency services and 
initiatives.
    Infectious Disease Plan: To be considered for a grant award, 
applicants must agree to develop a written plan designed to prepare the 
LEA for a possible infectious disease outbreak, such as pandemic 
influenza. Plans must address the four phases of emergency management 
(Mitigation/Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery) and 
include a plan for disease surveillance (systematic collection and 
analysis of data that lead to action being taken to prevent and control 
a disease), school closure decision making, business continuity 
(processes and procedures established to ensure that essential 
functions can continue during and after a disaster), and continuation 
of educational services.
    Food Defense Plan: To be considered for a grant award, applicants 
must agree to develop a written food defense plan that includes the 
four phases of emergency management (Prevention-Mitigation, 
Preparedness, Response, and Recovery) and is designed to safeguard the 
LEA's food supply, including all food storage and preparation 
facilities and delivery areas within the LEA.
    Individuals with Disabilities: Applicants must agree to develop 
plans that take into consideration the communication, medical, and 
evacuation needs of individuals with disabilities within the schools in 
the LEA.
    Implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS): 
Applicants must agree to implement their grant in a manner consistent 
with the implementation of the NIMS in their communities. Applicants 
must include in their applications an assurance that they have met, or 
will complete, all current NIMS requirements by the end of the grant 
period.
    Because DHS' determination of NIMS requirements may change from 
year to year, applicants must refer to the most recent list of NIMS 
requirements published by DHS when submitting their applications. In 
any notice inviting applications, the Department will provide 
applicants with information necessary to access the most recent DHS 
list of NIMS requirements.

    Note: An LEA's NIMS compliance must be achieved in close 
coordination with the local government and with recognition of the 
first responder capabilities held by the LEA and the local 
government. As LEAs are not traditional response organizations, 
first responder services will typically be provided to LEAs by local 
fire and rescue departments, emergency medical service providers, 
and law enforcement agencies. This traditional relationship must be 
acknowledged in achieving NIMS compliance in an integrated NIMS 
compliance plan for the local government and the LEA. LEA 
participation in the NIMS preparedness program of the local 
government is essential in ensuring that first responder services 
are delivered to schools in a timely and effective manner. 
Additional information about NIMS implementation and requirements is 
available at http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/.

Final Priorities and Requirements

    We will announce the final priorities and requirements in a notice 
in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities and 
requirements after considering responses to this notice and other 
information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude 
us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or 
selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use one or more of these priorities or 
requirements, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal 
Register.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 
12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential 
costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action 
are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this proposed regulatory action, we have determined 
that the benefits of the proposed priorities and requirements justify 
the costs.
    We have determined, also, that this proposed regulatory action does 
not unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.

Discussion of Costs and Benefits

    The potential costs associated with the proposed priorities and 
requirements are minimal while the benefits are significant.
    Grantees may anticipate costs in developing written infectious 
disease and food defense plans, implementing the NIMS requirements, and 
developing emergency management plans for individuals with 
disabilities. Grantees may also anticipate costs in achieving increased 
local emergency management

[[Page 78761]]

capacity. However, these costs may be included in the grant budget and, 
therefore, will have little financial impact on the applicant.
    The benefit of the proposed priorities and requirements is that 
grantees that develop a comprehensive, NIMS-compliant emergency 
management plan that includes training and capacity building for staff 
and plans for addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities, 
and is implemented in coordination with community partners, may prevent 
or mitigate the financial and human impact of an emergency in the LEA. 
In addition, by having written plans designed to address infectious 
diseases and protect the LEA's food supplies, LEAs may be able to 
prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of these hazards, which in turn 
could result in significant savings in health care and other financial 
costs for the school community.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/
nara/index.html.


    Dated: December 17, 2008.
Deborah A. Price,
Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
 [FR Doc. E8-30578 Filed 12-22-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P