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FCC Issues Category Two Clarification Order

On October 14, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission released an Order providing further guidance and clarification regarding the calculation of discount rates and Category Two budget caps for charter schools, independent schools with only part-time students, and schools with facilities which may be partially or completely closed due to COVID-19.
Charter schools
In the Order, the FCC states that “if state law considers a charter school to be part of a school district, the charter school will be presumed to be a part of [that] district for purposes of calculating the category two budget and discount rate, unless the charter school demonstrates financial and administrative independence from the district, in which case it will have its own separate category two budget and discount rate.”  The Order then provides examples of documentation which may be presented to USAC as evidence of “financial and administrative independence.”
Independent schools with only part-time students
The Order clarifies that “independent schools that are attended by students from multiple districts on a part-time basis only (such as vocational schools that are not part of a school district)… should continue to count these students as full-time students consistent with previous guidance provided under the prior category two budget rules.”
School buildings completely or partially closed due to COVID-19
The FCC clarifies that “in light of the number of schools implementing plans to offer instruction to some or all students via remote learning on a full-or part-time basis due to COVID-19… students enrolled at brick and mortar schools should be counted as full-time students regardless of whether they receive some or all instruction via remote learning during the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  
Further, the Commission “will permit applicants to provide their full-time enrollment numbers from their funding year 2020 FCC Form 471 applications in funding year 2021,” but reminds applicants that student enrollment figures must be validated once during the five year funding cycle.
Cost-allocation for core equipment used by NIFS
The last section of the Order reminds applicants “that they are required to comply with the Commission’s cost allocation rules and remove the costs of any use of shared network equipment by a non-instructional facility.”
The FCC’s Order may be found here
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