The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) continues to be a reliable source of funding for teachers and administrators adding IHT heart rate technology to their physical education programs.

In the 2018-19 school year, the U.S. Department of Education made $1.1 billion available to local schools as part of ESSA Title IV, Part A, which supports programs that provide safe and healthy schools, well-rounded education and demonstrate the effective use of technology. For the coming year, the Title IV, Part A budget increases to $1.17 billion to be divided among the states.

School districts in Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts and California all used a portion of their district’s ESSA allocations to purchase IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors. Those administrators offer some key advice for teachers and administrators who plan to request funding for appropriate purchases in the coming school year.

Learn the ESSA Language

Requesting funding from your district’s ESSA allocation doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but teachers must do the necessary homework to make sure their proposal meets the key guidelines.

“Just because the money is there doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get it,” said Mario Reyna, the PE Coordinator for McAllen (Texas) Independent School District. “You have to get yourself educated on what ESSA is all about.”

Programs must be new and be able to measure their direct impact on student development. By measuring and assessing each student’s heart rate, the IHT Spirit System automatically delivers the accountability required in ESSA’s language.

“Get the language you need and start preparing proposals,” said Irving (Texas) ISD Health and PE Coordinator Sandi Cravens. “Preparation is important.”

Partner with the Local ESSA Funding Manager

Most school districts have an office responsible for managing federal funding or grants. In many cases, the district’s director of federal programs or grants director makes the decisions on how ESSA funding gets spent. Reyna said building a relationship with the key decision-maker is essential to building a successful proposal.

“I went to the key stakeholder in my district and I sat with that person to discuss how I could get some of that money,” Reyna said. “Once that person knew that I knew what I was talking about and why deserved some of that money, they were very willing to listen. You have to speak out for your program.”

Developing a partnership with the funding manager can simplify the application process.

“I work with this grant director all the time,” said Douglas County (Colo.) Public Schools Healthy Schools Coordinator Laurie LaComb. “She knows my work. She knows our program.

Create a Proposal that Meets the ESSA Requirements

The best way to see a proposal receive funding is to stick to the ESSA guidelines. When her administrator approached her with ESSA as a funding option, Cravens made sure she referred to the ESSA language when crafting her proposal.

“Just look up the Title IV funding wording so you are really clear about what it can be used for,” she said. “We need to be able to make the correlation between physical activity levels and academic performance at the end of the year.”

Along with specific ESSA requirements, be sure to understand any unique details required in the local district’s application.

“Study your district’s system,” Reyna said. “Each district’s system to request funding is different, so you need to understand it and get yourself in there. The more you educate yourself about ESSA , the easier it will be.”

Be Ready to Act

Having requested – and received – ESSA funding three times, Reyna makes sure he is ready to act if the district hasn’t spent its entire allotment.

“I’ve always got a proposal ready to submit if I find out there is money available,” Reyna said. “If my funding coordinator lets me know there is money available, I’m going to apply for it. I have to act fast because maybe she’s letting other departments know as well and I need that money.”

Remaining prepared also eliminates the need to throw together a hurried proposal that may not gain approval. Now that she’s been through the process a few times, Cravens knows she needs to get her proposals submitted early in the process, but she doesn’t feel rushed.

“We are always rushing to get all of this in place so we can meet the rules of the funding,” she said. “Reach out to the decision makers and let them know you have ideas for how we can spend the money and talk to them about programs that impact the children.”

Competition for ESSA funding, and in particular Title IV, Part A funding, can be fierce. While PE could rely on its own funding through the former PEP grants, ESSA funding supports programs across the entire academic spectrum. Submitting a thorough proposal early in the new school year ensures decision-makers are reviewing it before all of the funding has been allocated.

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