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Oregon to Join Five Other States in Seeking Funding Waiver

Sorry for the long stretch of silence, blog fans! I've been filling in on the district coverage beat, and the resignation of Joel Klein caused a sudden burst of interesting news.

But special education news keeps rolling along, including this article in the Portland Oregonian that Oregon plans to join a handful of other states in seeking permission to cut its state special education spending for one year.

As I wrote earlier this year, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act allows states to request such waivers if they are facing unexpected financial hardship. However, the actual waiver request is still being written, Susanne Smith, a state education department spokeswoman, told me.

It's expected that it will follow the same general pattern as the requests that have come from Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina and West Virginia, Smith said. From the article:

In 2009-10, Oregon set aside about $350 million in state special education services for school-age kids. For 2010-11, the number dropped to about $332 million. For state early childhood programs, Oregon allocated $11.5 million in 2009-10 and the number dropped to $10.4 [million] in 2010-11.

State education officials have begun meeting with other state leaders and district superintendents and will meet with special education advocacy groups and other stakeholders over the next two before making a final decision. But [state assistant superintendent Nancy] Latini said they'd like to begin the official waiver process in January.

UPDATE: Candace Cortiella of IDEA Money Watch notes in the comments that the Department of Education has now created a webpage where people can get information about waiver requests. Oregon isn't listed because the state hasn't officiallly submitted a waiver, but New Jersey is; that state's request is new to me.

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