[Federal Register Volume 62, Number 189 (Tuesday, September 30, 1997)]
[Notices]
[Pages 51089-51091]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 97-25917]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

RIN 1850-ZA01


21st Century Community Learning Centers Program

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes priorities for the 21st Century 
Community Learning Centers Program, administered by the Office of 
Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). The Secretary may use 
these priorities in fiscal year 1998 and subsequent years. The 
Secretary takes this action to focus Federal assistance on stimulating 
and expanding significant learning programs available to children and 
youth beyond regular school hours. The proposed absolute priority is 
also designed to ensure wide and effective use of program funds to 
support centers that provide expanded learning opportunities for 
children and youth in a safe and drug-free environment, and engage the 
support of citizens in those efforts. The proposed competitive 
priorities concern serving early adolescents and middle school students 
and services related to core academic subjects.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before November 14, 1997.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning the proposed priority should be 
addressed to Dr. Robert Stonehill, U.S. Department of Education, Office 
of Educational Research and Improvement, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, 
Room 504, Washington, DC 20208-5644. Comments may also be sent by fax 
(202-219-2198) or e-mail ([email protected]).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol J. Mitchell or Amanda Clyburn, 
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and 
Improvement, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Room 504, Washington, DC 20208-
5644. E-mail addresses are: [email protected] or 
[email protected]. Individuals who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service 
(FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern time, 
Monday through Friday. Individuals with disabilities may obtain this 
document in an alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audio 
tape, or computer diskette) on request to the contact person listed in 
the preceding paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The 21st Century Community Learning Centers 
Act authorizes the Secretary to award grants to rural and inner-city 
public elementary or secondary schools, or consortia of such schools, 
to enable them to plan, implement, or expand projects that benefit the 
educational, health, social service, cultural and recreational needs of 
a rural or inner-city community.
    A Community Learning Center established in a local public school 
can, among other things, be a stimulating, safe, supervised and cost-
effective after-school, weekend or summer haven for

[[Page 51090]]

children and youth--and their families. As reported in the recent 
Department of Education publication Keeping Schools Open as Community 
Learning Centers: Extending Learning in a Safe, Drug-free Environment 
Before and After School, recent research shows that a stimulating 
environment of this type can improve thinking and language performance 
of participating children and youth. Research also indicates that these 
programs reduce crime, delinquency, and victimization of children and 
youth. However, although the number of after-school child care programs 
has grown over the last 20 years, there are still far too few 
communities that offer effective, organized and extended opportunities 
for learning outside the regular school day. Of the 49,000 before- and 
after-school programs available in the U.S. in 1991, only about a third 
were housed in public schools. And, for in-school and out-of-school 
care programs, only a tiny percent served older children and youth. In 
1995, there were 23.5 million school-age children with parents in the 
workforce. But as recently as the 1993-94 school year, only 3.4 percent 
of children in public elementary and combined schools were enrolled in 
any of the estimated 18,000 before- or after-school programs at public 
schools. Seventy percent of all public elementary and combined schools 
did not have before- or after-school programs.
    The needs and demands are clear: a 1994 survey of parents found 
that 56 percent think that many parents leave their children alone too 
much after school, and a 1989 survey of school principals found that 84 
percent agreed that there is a need for before- and after-school 
programs. But even though the number of after-school programs is 
growing, the demand is growing faster, as thousands of parents who 
currently care for their children during the day are encouraged to 
enter the workforce.
    After-school programs are well positioned to reduce the incidence 
of drug use and violence and their detrimental effects on learning. 
Research by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that the 
hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are when youth aged 12 to 17 are most at 
risk of committing or of being victims of violent acts. After-school 
programs located at Community Learning Centers will give youth a safe 
and supervised place to go during these hours. For that reason, the 
Secretary is proposing a competitive priority for those applicants for 
Community Learning Centers that will serve early adolescents and 
middle-school students.

Priorities

    The proposed absolute priority supports centers that have a goal of 
providing learning opportunities for students in a safe and drug-free 
environment. For example, before- and after-school programs can be a 
place in which tutors provide reading help to younger children or in 
which mentors guide older children to take challenging mathematics and 
science courses that pave the way to college, and help them succeed in 
those courses. However, programs applying for assistance are required 
to carry out at least four of the activities listed in section 10905 of 
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. 8245), and should 
propose an array of inclusive and supervised services that include 
extended learning opportunities (such as enriched instruction, tutoring 
or homework help) but may also include safety and drug-free 
interventions; recreational, musical and artistic activities; and 
opportunities to use advanced technology, particularly for those 
children who do not have access to computers or telecommunications at 
home. Although the proposed absolute priority requires that children 
and youth be served, applicants may propose projects that also serve 
and involve other members of the community.
    The proposed priorities authorize the Department to give a 
preference to applicants that propose to serve the academic needs of 
participating children and youth. These can include services that will 
assist students who need additional support to master reading and 
literacy skills, both by directly providing reading services as well as 
tutoring and mentoring programs in supervised locations. For younger 
children who are not reading as well as they should, Community Learning 
Centers can provide extended time in which to overcome the obstacles 
that have in the past prevented them from becoming good readers. The 
proposed priorities will also encourage schools to develop strategies 
to address the needs of students who can benefit from additional 
enrichment or challenge in mathematics or science, or who are not 
performing as well as they should. Community learning centers can 
provide extended hours for students to learn and review basic concepts 
they may have missed during class, to delve deeper into a more 
challenging curriculum, or to participate in enjoyable hands-on 
activities and experiments.
    The Secretary will announce the final priorities in a notice in the 
Federal Register. The final priorities will be determined by responses 
to this notice, available funds, and other considerations of the 
Department. Funding of particular projects depends on the availability 
of funds, the content of the final priorities, the quality of the 
applications received, and the requirements in the law for equitable 
representation nationally and within states of rural and inner-city 
programs. The first cycle of awards will be made from fiscal year 1998 
funds. If applications of high quality remain unfunded, additional 
awards may be made in fiscal year 1999, pending availability of funds. 
The publication of the proposed priorities does not preclude the 
Secretary from proposing additional priorities, nor does it limit the 
Secretary to funding only these priorities, subject to meeting 
applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. A notice 
inviting applications under this competition will be published in 
the Federal Register concurrent with or following publication of the 
notice of final priorities. If you would like your name to be put on 
a mailing list to receive an application package, you may fax your 
request to Annie Thompson at (202) 219-2198, or e-mail it to her at: 
[email protected].

Proposed Absolute Priority

    Under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(3), the Secretary proposes to give an 
absolute preference to applications that meet the proposed absolute 
priority in the next paragraph. The Secretary proposes to fund under 
this competition only applications that meet this absolute priority.

Activities to Expand Learning Opportunities

    The Secretary proposes to fund only those applications for 21st 
Century Community Learning Centers grants that include, among the array 
of services required and authorized by the statute, activities that 
offer significant expanded learning opportunities for children and 
youth in the community and that contribute to reduced drug use and 
violence.

Proposed Competitive Priorities

    Under 34 CFR 75.105 (c)(2)(i), the Secretary proposes to give 
preference to applications that meet one or both of the two competitive 
priorities in the next two paragraphs. The Secretary proposes to give 
up to five (5) points for each competitive priority addressed in an 
application (for a maximum of 10 points if an application addresses 
both competitive priorities). These points would be in addition to any 
points the application earns under the selection

[[Page 51091]]

criteria which will be published in the application package.
    Proposed Competitive Priority 1--Projects that propose to serve 
early adolescents and middle-school students.
    Proposed Competitive Priority 2--Projects designed to assist 
students to meet or exceed state and local standards in core academic 
subjects such as reading, mathematics or science, as appropriate to the 
needs of the participating children.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities has been reviewed in accordance 
with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order the Secretary 
has assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory 
action.
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed 
priorities are those resulting from statutory requirements and those 
determined by the Secretary as necessary for administering this program 
effectively and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, the Secretary 
has determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities justify the 
costs.
    To assist the Department in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866, the Secretary invites comment on 
whether there may be further opportunities to reduce any potential 
costs or increase potential benefits resulting from these proposed 
priorities without impeding the effective and efficient administration 
of the program.

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits 

    There are no identified costs associated with this notice of 
proposed priorities. Announcement of the priorities will not result in 
costs to State and local governments or to recipients of grant funds.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to the requirements of Executive Order 
12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. The objective of the 
Executive Order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a 
strengthened federalism by relying on processes developed by State and 
local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    In accordance with the order, this document is intended to provide 
early notification of the Department's specific plans and actions for 
this program.

Invitation To Comment

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments and 
recommendations regarding this notice of proposed priorities. All 
comments submitted in response to this notice will be available for 
public inspection, during and after the comment period, in Room 504, 
555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 
a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Thursday of each week 
except Federal holidays.
    On request the Department supplies an appropriate aid, such as a 
reader or print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking docket for these proposed priorities. An individual with a 
disability who wants to schedule an appointment for this type of aid 
may call (202) 205-8113 or (202) 260-9895. An individual who uses a TDD 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, 
between 8 a.m., and 8 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.

Electronic Access to this Document

    Anyone may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or 
portable document format (pdf), on the World Wide Web at either of the 
following sites:

http://ocfo.ed.gov/fedreg.htm
http://www.ed.gov/news.html

To use pdf you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader Program with Search, 
which is available free at either of the previous sites. If you have 
questions about using the pdf, call the U.S. Government Printing Office 
toll free at 1-888-293-6498.
    Anyone may also view these documents in text copy only on an 
electronic bulletin board of the Department. Telephone: (202) 219-1511 
or, toll free, 1-800-222-4922. The documents are located under Option 
G--Files/Announcements, Bulletins and Press Releases.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 8241-8247.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.287, 21st Century 
Community Learning Centers Program)

    Dated: September 19, 1997.
Ricky T. Takai,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement.
[FR Doc. 97-25917 Filed 9-29-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P