A Microsoft Word Version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.
TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
Subject: Online Application for Funding for the New Instructional Facilities Allotment (NIFA)
The Texas Education Code (TEC) §42.158, enacted by Senate Bill 4 of the 76th Texas Legislature, 1999, created the New Instructional Facilities Allotment (NIFA) for public school districts. The 79th Legislature is currently in session and an appropriations bill has not yet been passed. In anticipation of the NIFA being funded, we have made the online application for funding available. We will post information on our website as soon as the Legislature takes action on the funding of NIFA for the next biennium. In the meantime, we recommend any district eligible for funding submit an application to avoid missing important deadlines. (The complete statutory reference for the NIFA is shown in Attachment I and the commissioner’s rules for the NIFA are shown in Attachment II.) Some important facts and common misconceptions about NIFA are addressed below:
Eligibility Criteria: NIFA is available to all public school districts that construct new buildings. Open enrollment charter schools are not eligible. Districts that must take action under TEC, Chapter 41 to reduce wealth per student to the equalized wealth level and school districts that do not otherwise qualify for state aid are eligible to receive the NIFA. Definitions and eligibility criteria for the NIFA are described below.
Allotment Amount: For an initial (first year) or special one year application, a school district is entitled to an allotment of $250 per ADA earned by students in attendance on an eligible new campus. Funding is prorated for a facility that opens after the beginning of the school year. For follow up (second year) applications, a campus is entitled to an allotment of $250 for each additional student in ADA. The number of additional students is the difference between the number of students in ADA in the second year at that facility and the number of students in ADA in the first year.
Allotment Proration: Funding for NIFA is limited by appropriation. If the total amount of allotments to which all districts are entitled for a school year exceeds the amount appropriated, the commissioner will reduce each district’s allotment so that the total amount to be distributed equals the total amount available. Reductions to allotments are made by applying the same number of cents of tax rate to each district’s taxable value of property. For each district, the taxable value of property is the property value certified by the Comptroller for the preceding school year as determined under Subchapter M, Chapter 403, Government Code, or, if applicable, a reduced property value that reflects either a rapid decline pursuant to TEC §42.2521 or a grade-level adjustment pursuant to TEC §42.106.
Application Process: The NIFA application is available online. Applications must be entered, saved and sent through the online system. Applications must be sent electronically by July 15, 2005. Neither late applications nor paper applications will be accepted. Pictures and legal documentation must be postmarked no later than July 15, 2005, and must be sent by certified mail to the following address:
Texas Education Agency
Foundation School Program (“FSP”): The online Foundation School Program (“FSP”) system requires a TEASE logon and assigned password. The FSP system will not process an application until the applicant agrees that certain required conditions apply to the newly constructed site. Moreover, the system assumes that the applicant is the superintendent or the superintendent’s authorized designee and is fully familiar with the pertinent facts. Please be cautious about who is granted online access since the information provided in the NIFA application is subject to audit. (The FSP System can be accessed from the TEA School Finance Website at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/school.finance/fsp.html)
Upon FSP system access, the user should:
Selecting the appropriate application type:
Preliminary Payments: Since many NIFA applications are for a second year (follow-up), and the amount of funding to which districts are entitled depends in part on the ADA funded in the prior year, it is necessary to finalize allocations for the prior year before applications can be processed for the current year. Since the end of year 2004-05 ADA data from the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) are not available until October, preliminary NIFA award amounts will be announced in November or earlier if possible.
For all districts receiving the NIFA, a settle up amount is determined by the commissioner when final counts of ADA as reported through PEIMS are available for each campus. The amount of funds to be distributed for NIFA to a school district is in addition to any other state aid entitlements.
A separate NIFA payment will not be sent. Rather, preliminary payments will be incorporated into allocations for the Foundation School Program in accordance with the district’s payment class. NIFA payments are reflected on the Summary of Finance reports. For districts that are not subject to the requirements of TEC, Chapter 41 and do not receive payments from the Foundation School Fund, NIFA distributions will correspond to the schedule for payment class 3. For districts that are required to reduce wealth pursuant to TEC, Chapter 41, any NIFA funds for which the district is eligible are applied as credits to the amounts owed to equalize wealth.
Questions: If you have any questions related to this application or the NIFA, please contact Cassie Huggins in the State Funding Division at (512) 463-9238.
Robert N. Jocius, Senior Director
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