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TO:                             Superintendents of Schools


FROM:                       J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner


DATE:                        March 8, 2002


SUBJECT:                 Federal Grant Opportunities for Schools



            I am pleased to announce that two grant and loan opportunities are available from the federal government to assist schools with expenses related to school repair, renovation, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) compliance, technology equipment and infrastructure, and training. The Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) Program is administered by the US Department of Agriculture under its Rural Development program and the School Renovation, IDEA, and Technology (RIT) Program is administered by the Maine Department of Education.


Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)


            QZAB low interest loans are available for school renovations, equipment, and training. Schools with at least 35% Free and Reduced Lunch are eligible to apply. It is also necessary to provide a 10% match of funds from the local community. QZAB loans can be arranged through a local bank in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture.


            Approximately $4.5 million in funds has been allocated to Maine for these awards. Applications are available from the Maine Department of Education web site or from Jay Readinger at  Loans of up to a maximum of $500,000 per district are available.


Renovation, IDEA, and Technology  (RIT) Grants


            RIT competitive grants must be used for emergency repairs, renovations, IDEA compliance, and technology equipment and infrastructure. 75% of RIT awards will be made for renovation and repair projects. The remaining 25% will be made for IDEA and technology projects. 40% of the funds will be awarded to schools with at least 30% Free and Reduced Lunch. Grant funds must be used to supplement, not supplant, local funds. Maximum grant awards will be up to $300,000 per school for renovation and repair projects, and $100,000 per school for IDEA and technology projects.


            Applications for RIT proposals are available from the Maine Department of Education web site or at one of the RIT Training sessions that are being offered live in Augusta or via ATM on March 18, 2002 at 10:00 A.M.  and on March 19, 2002 at 3:00 P.M. Attendance at one of these training sessions is strongly encouraged. If you are interested in hosting an ATM training session at your school, please contact Jay Readinger as soon as possible before March 14, 2002.


For more information about either of these grant/loan opportunities contact Jay Readinger at the Department of Education at or please plan to attend one of the training sessions listed above.