SEA Webinar: Consultancy Call on Allowable Expenses


Facilitator: Alex Medler,Senior Director, National Charter Schools Resource Center


  • Krystal Starwich, Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

Description: This month, the National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) hosted conference calls as part of our technical assistance to State Educational Agency (SEA) Grant administrators (i.e., project directors and/or direct support staff). These conference calls differ from the regular webinar series hosted by the NCSRC. They were facilitated conference calls, designed as “consultancies.” Each call allowed peer-to-peer problem solving of a concrete challenge that was presented by a colleague. The topics were selected based on input from CSP staff to be relevant to many states. 

The first call addressed allowable expenses for subgrants. Krystal Starwich, from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), shared her questions and challenges. Washington State’s charter sector is fraught with challenges; including a pending lawsuit, funding inequities, and strong resistance from many communities. Seattle, WA has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country and outcomes for students of color in the state are poor. However, Washington’s charter authorizers are leading in terms of their rigorous authorization and oversight process. Washington’s CSP program staff want to make the best use of their time and funds to support the work of these schools in a nascent sector. Questions discussed on the call include:

  • How much do you consult with the Department of Education regarding allowable expenses?
  • In terms of “implementation,” do you consider the first full school year of a new grade to be an implementation year? For instance, if a school just added 2 new grades, could expenses for those new grades be charged to CSP for the entire year or just for part of the year?
  • Many states seem to have strict policies around the use of CSP for salaries. Are there states with more liberal policies?  If so, what is it and how do you make a case for salaries in terms of “initial operational costs?”
  • How do you demonstrate that other implementation costs cannot be met by State or local sources?
  • How do other states deal with back-office support costs?
  • How do other states deal with adding new grades in terms of software programs such as enrollment or attendance programs? Can portions of this be charged to CSP as new grades are added?
  • How do other states deal with replacement equipment? Is this allowable in your state?

In this interactive webinar, participants responded to the questions posed above, probed and asked clarifying questions, and offered their own insights and reflections based on experiences from their states. While not a formal webinar, this recording is intended to be a resource for others that establish new CSP programs in the future and face similar challenges.