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Maintenance of Equity Overview

Note: The U.S. Department has identified criteria for automatic and requested exceptions.

CDE has determined that all LEAs in Colorado either meet the automatic exception criteria or they are eligible for requesting an exception from MOEquity requirements for FY 2023. Please see the section on Maintenance of Equity Exceptions below for the list of LEAs, which indicates the reason for each LEA’s exception.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act, Section 2004) includes new Maintenance of Equity (MOEquity) provisions which require that State educational agency (SEA) and local educational agencies (LEA) that accept Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) Funds ensure that state and local funds are not disproportionately reduced for high poverty or high needs LEAs and schools. These provisions are central to ensuring that essential resources are meeting the needs of students who have been subject to longstanding opportunity gaps in our education system. These student groups have also experienced the greatest impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maintenance of Equity provisions will help ensure that schools and LEAs serving large proportions of historically underserved groups of students, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness, receive an equitable share of State and local funds as the Nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. These schools and LEAs historically have been under-funded and are more reliant on State funding than schools and LEAs with lower concentrations of underserved students. Accordingly, if State or local funds are reduced, the Maintenance of Equity provisions ensure that LEAs and schools serving a large share of students from low-income backgrounds do not experience a disproportionate cut in fiscal years (FYs) 2022 and 2023, and that the highest poverty LEAs do not receive a decrease in State funding below their FY 2019 level.


Maintenance of Equity State and Local Requirements

Maintenance of Equity (MOEquity) includes requirements for both the State Educational Agency SEA) and the Local Educational Agencies (LEAs).

Specifically, MOEquity ensures the following:

  • An SEA does not disproportionately reduce per-pupil State funding to high-need LEAs.
  • An SEA does not reduce per-pupil State funding to the highest-poverty LEAs below their FY 2019 level.
  • An LEA does not disproportionately reduce State and local per-pupil funding in high-poverty schools.
  • An LEA does not disproportionately reduce the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff per pupil in high-poverty schools.
High Poverty and High-Need LEAs
A “high-need LEA” is an LEA that is one of the LEAs in Colorado that:
  • In rank order, have the highest percentages of economically disadvantaged students in Colorado
  • Collectively serve not less than 50 percent of the state’s total enrollment of students served by all LEAs in Colorado

A “highest-poverty LEA” is an LEA that is one of the LEAs in Colorado that:

  • In rank order, have the highest percentages of economically disadvantaged students in Colorado
  • Collectively serve not less than 20 percent of the state’s total enrollment of students served by all LEAs in Colorado
CDE determined Colorado’s high-need LEAs as follows:
  1. Determine the total enrollment for all LEAs in the State and multiply that number by .50 to obtain the number that equals 50 percent of the total enrollment in all LEAs in the State.
  2. Beginning with the highest poverty LEA in the State, add the enrollment of each lower ranked LEA in order of poverty until the SEA reaches the LEA at which the cumulative enrollment for the ranked LEAs is at least as great as the number in step 1.
  3. Identify each LEA referenced in step 2 as a “high-need LEA.” An SEA identifies the LEA that “tips the scale” as a high-need LEA even if only a small number of students are included from the LEA to reach the cumulative enrollment required. For example, if an LEA only brings the cumulative total to 49,500 students, the identification of another LEA is required to reach the 50,000 student threshold.
CDE identified Colorado’s highest-poverty LEAs as follows:
  1. Multiply the total enrollment for all LEAs in the State (from step 1 above) by .20 to obtain the number that equals 20 percent of the total enrollment in all LEAs in the State.
  2. Beginning with the highest poverty LEA in the State, add the enrollment of each lower ranked LEA in order of poverty until the SEA reaches the LEA at which the cumulative enrollment for the ranked LEAs is at least as great as the number in step 1. 
  3. Identify each LEA referenced in step 2 as a “highest-poverty LEA.” An SEA identifies the LEA that “tips the scale” as a highest-poverty LEA even if only a small number of students are included from the next LEA to reach the cumulative enrollment required.
When identifying its high-need and highest-poverty LEAs, CDE ranked all its LEAs based on the most recent SAIPE poverty data and used the best available enrollment data to collectively identify high-need and highest-poverty LEAs. CDE’s list of high-need and highest-poverty LEAs was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and is located here.

Maintenance of Equity LEA Requirements

Under Maintenance of Equity, an LEA cannot reduce per-pupil funding for their high-poverty schools more than the total reduction of their funds divided by the number of students currently enrolled in LEA.

  • Applies to 2022 and 2023 as compared to 2021

  • State and local funding combined
Under Maintenance of Equity, an LEA cannot reduce the number of FTE staff per-pupil by an amount that exceeds the total reduction, if any, in FTE staff per-pupil in all schools served by the LEA in the comparison  year.
  • Applies to 2022 and 2023 as compared to 2021
  • Includes all instructional and non-instructional contractors and employees
High Poverty Schools
A high-poverty school is a school that is in the highest quartile of schools served by an LEA based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students served, as determined by the State.
  • To reduce the burden on LEAs, CDE has provided a list of high-poverty schools for each LEA here.
CDE determined the highest quartile of schools for each LEA by:
  1. Ranking each school in the LEA by its percentage of economically disadvantaged students, from highest percentage to lowest percentage, in each fiscal year.
  2. Dividing the total number of schools in the LEA by 4 to determine the number of schools in the highest quartile. If the result of the division is not a whole number, the number was  rounded up to the nearest whole number to determine the number of schools that must be identified as high-poverty schools.
  3. Identifying the highest-poverty quartile of schools (the number of schools identified in step 2) in the LEA as high-poverty schools.
CDE has identified high-poverty schools on a districtwide basis, but individual LEAs may also choose to ask CDE to use the grade span method to identify high-poverty schools. Should LEAs choose to use the grade span option, please submit the form here.
 
LEAs should consider several factors to decide which option to use to identify its high-poverty schools, including:
  • Total number of high poverty students impacted
  • Relative concentration of poverty in schools that would be identified compared to those that would not
  • Whether grade spans would capture high schools if they would not otherwise be captured 
If the LEA chooses to rank by grade span, an LEA may first select the high poverty school in rank order from each grade span. If an LEA needs to identify additional high poverty schools, then an LEA has discretion so long as the LEA selects in rank order based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students. For example, an LEA may continue down the list from highest to lowest within each grade span or continue to select schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students in one or more grade spans.

Maintenance of Equity Exceptions

An LEA may be exempt from Maintenance of Equity requirements if the LEA:
  1. Has a total enrollment of less than 1,000 students (automatic exception);
  2. Operates a single school (automatic exception);
  3. Serves all students within each grade span with a single school (automatic exception); or
  4. Demonstrates an exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance, such as unpredictable changes in student enrollment or a precipitous decline in the financial resources of the LEA as determined by the Secretary (eligible to request an exception).
    ​​a. Additionally, an LEA that did not face an overall budget reduction in the combined state and local per pupil funding may also request an exception. 
LEAs that meet the criteria for an automatic exception are not required to take any further action. LEAs that are eligible for an exception due to exceptional circumstances (item 4 above), must submit an exception certification form to CDE.
 

Fiscal Year 2023

Specifically, if an LEA is noted to be “eligible for exception” in the CDE High Poverty Schools List in column E, the LEA must complete and submit the exception form and submit it through Smartsheet to CDE.

Fiscal Year 2022

 
For questions, please contact: 
 
Nazanin Mohajeri-Nelson, Executive Director of Federal Programs and Support Unit
(702) 626-3895
 
Mackenzie Owens, ESSER Reporting and Monitoring Specialist
(720) 601-7112

 

Other members of the Maintenance of Equity Team available to respond to questions: