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How Much IDEA Funding Will Your District Get Under the Stimulus Proposal?

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This great link was passed to me by Linda Perlstein, the public editor for the Education Writers Association. It's a breakdown of how much every school district in the country would receive in special education dollars under the stimulus bill recently passed by the House of Representatives.

The "American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill" includes $13 billion for special education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act--a hefty infusion, considering the government's contribution this year was around $11 billion.

The link also provides information on Title I and construction funds that would flow to schools under the proposal. Based on this, I see that the school district I used to cover, Prince William County Schools in lovely Northern Virginia, would be looking at another $28 million total for fiscal 2009 and 2010, about $16.3 million of which would be IDEA funds. I'm sure they won't turn it down.

Of course, there's far more that needs to be done before this bill becomes a reality, including reconciling the House bill with the Senate's version of the stimulus package. My colleague Alyson Klein has a story here, and David Hoff has an article on state chiefs' expectations here.

5 Comments

Wow. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been asking myself this very question, and never dreamed I'd be able to download a spreadsheet in two clicks and just answer it! $400K+ next year for IDEA for my town! Almost $1M including construction! The headline on Monday here said they'd be cutting 100 jobs from the schools and city in our town of less than 30,000 population. You know most of those would come from the schools in a town that size.

It might be premature to imagine that SPED staff so accustomed to focusing on fighting parents to save money might consider taking a break from that part of their job, but at least there's a chance. So thanks for helping my quantify my burgeoning hope with some specificity!

Isn't it cool? Of course, we'll see if it all works out this way by the time the stimulus is passed. There are some other concerns brewing that will be the subject of a future blog post...

Special education advocates should think twice before starting the celebrations over the IDEA "supplemental appropriations" in the current versions of both the House and Senate Recovery bills (HR 1 and S 336).

First -- current IDEA law allows local educational agencies (LEAs - generally school districts) to reduce their local expenditures toward special education by up to 50% of any increase in federal funds annually. So, in the two years of the windfall IDEA funds, districts could reduce their local expenditures EACH YEAR by half ... expect districts to do just that since this is such a huge increase in funding, districts will be hard pressed to spend the new funds within the allotted time...(the 50% allowance in current law was negotiated considering an appropriations scheme that would provide increases of between 10%-16% per year from 2005-2011 --peaking at $26.1 billion in 2011)

Second, there are forces at work in the US Congress to allow these IDEA funds to be exempt from all provisions in current IDEA law covering both the requirement to use federal funds to supplement not supplant local funds as well as the 'maintenance of effort' provision by way of waivers from the Secretary of Education. If this happens, there is no requirement that any of the new IDEA federal funds be spent on special education services. This seems somewhat contradictory to the language in the Senate Appropriations Committee report accompanying S 336, which states that:

“The Committee recommendation includes an additional $13,500,000,000 for Special Education. Of this amount, $13,000,000,000 is available for services to children with disabilities, age 3–21. The Committee intends for these funds to be used to enhance services to and outcomes for such children with disabilities and strongly encourages the Department to engage in appropriate oversight and monitoring to accomplish this objective. Local educational agencies must spend not less than 15 percent of their Part B funds on early childhood education. The remaining $500,000,000 available within this account is for State Grants for Infants and Families.”

It is hard to imagine that these rates of federal funding will be sustained in the normal appropriations process (FY 2011)... particularly given the growing deficit. Then districts will be in a real bind.


Thank you to Candace Cortiella, Director of the Advocacy Institute for your astute and clear information on the "IDEA supplemental appropriations" in the current versions of both the House and Senate Recovery bills (HR 1 and S 336). I urge everyone to contact their members of the U.S. House and Senate 202-224-3121 and tell them to vote no on these funds, buried in this mockery of a desperately necessary Federal stimulus package. We cannot stand silently and idly by as President Obama signs a stimulus package that will not improve the educational programs, services or ultimate outcomes for our 6.5 million students with disabilities. President Obama made bold promises during his 24 months of campaign speeches. He cannot be allowed to break his promise to America’s children with disabilities. President Obama cannot be allowed to feel he is keeping his promise to increase IDEA 2004 funding through a bad stimulus package that gives far too much authority to our new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan to provide states with waivers at a whim that will supplant state and local funding and allow for the use of Federal funds for everything but special education programs and services.

Push your legislators to thoroughly examine how all 15,000 school districts (LEAs) are using their state and federal special education dollars. Push your legislators to have the courage to understand the funding necessary to provide America's 6.5 million students with IEPs, a "free appropriate public education" and an education that raises the graduation and lowers the dropout rate (currently more than 33% of students with IEPs are dropping out of high school) for our students with special needs.

It would be comical if not so tragic that Democratic leadership found it necessary to bury $13 billion in misleading and caveat-filled special education funding in a stimulus bailout that will have nothing to do with ultimately increasing the outcomes or employability of our students with disabilities.

It is long overdue that parents and advocates fight and fight relentlessly for an overhaul of IDEA 2004. We must unite and march in D.C. and demand a Federal law that is not mistaken daily for the nation's largest hunk of disingenuous, holes-laden Swiss cheese.

Accountability is one of the themes that was spun as this administration began its term.
When money is just added to a system that is generating a lot of paper, but not providing appropriate educational help, it's distressing.
Well meaning teachers do not have the skills to teach many of our learning disabled children.
Many of us who do not have the resources to send our children to private schools that specialize in learning disabilities (and who post college acceptance rates in the 90% range) are home schooling. We are the ones attending conferences and seminars to learn techniques to teach our children. We are on-line sharing our experiences. We are the ones trying to produce productive citizens with our at-risk children.
Once again, Washington is listening to the lobbyists, and throwing symbolic money at the problem, when we are doing the real work at home.
President Obama wanted to know when programs are not working--this is example #1.



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