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SLD Outlines Procedures for Special Filing Season

The Schools and Libraries Division has supplied directions to those school districts that will be permitted to re-bid their contracts for the 2002 E-rate funding year as a result of the Federal Communications Commission's recent Ysleta decision.

As a result of that decision, a small number of large school districts and a consortium will be permitted to re-apply after the FCC decided that based on the SLD's approval of the application of the El Paso Independent School District in 2001, the districts might have concluded that the bidding practices they followed were permissible under E-rate program rules. The Ysleta, Donna, Galena Park, and El Paso school districts in Texas, the Navajo Education Technology Consortium and Albuquerque School District in New Mexico, the Oklahoma City school district in Oklahoma and the Memphis school district in Tennessee will be permitted to reapply, based on appeals that the districts and/or IBM filed with the FCC. Additional school districts that had appealed their rejections to the SLD first will also be permitted to re-apply, but the SLD has not yet publicly announced the names of those districts.

The rules for the new application period were laid down by the FCC in its December 2003 decision on the districts' appeals. The districts were given until February 6, 2004 to post one or more new Form 470 applications for the 2002 funding year. The SLD instructed the districts to use the prefix "Refile-" in their applicant form identifier so that their applications would be readily identifiable among other applications posted for the 2004 funding year. The SLD also supplied verbiage that these applicants are supposed to use in Block 2, Item 13 of their applications to make clear to interested vendors that their applications were covered by these special rules.

The applicants must, as always, wait 28 days before signing contracts, and then must file their Form 471 applications by April 23, 2004.

The applicants will not be permitted to re-apply for discounts for services that they already used, particularly telecommunications services or Internet access. The SLD's instructions noted that the "total amount of money" that the applicants seek in their new applications "cannot exceed the amount of pre-discount funding" that they had originally sought. "More specifically, no applicant can receive funding in excess of the amount for which you originally applied in each individual funding request," the SLD told the applicants. It was unclear how the FCC intended to evaluate that.

The SLD specified that the determination of eligibility would be based on the list of eligible services for the 2004 funding year. An SLD staff person said the applicants were supposed to use their discount rate information from the 2002 funding year.

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