SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 24
February 5, 1999
|FROM:||Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Special Education Federal Fundi|
Department of Education staff members have been receiving a number of inquiries regarding a letter recently mailed to local school superintendents from Congressman Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania. In his letter (copy attached) Rep. Goodling summarizes certain benefits to states included in the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the perspective of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. Based on the questions we have received from local superintendents, we believe that some of Rep. Goodling's statements are being misinterpreted, particularly as they relate to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, we offer the following information to assist you in your budget planning for next year. 1. IDEA 1413(a)(2)(C) permits an LEA to 1) use 20 percent of its increase in Part B flow-through funds to supplant state and local special education funds, and 2) reduce by that same amount its level of special education expenditures from local funds below the level it spent in the preceding year. However, all of the program and procedural requirements prescribed by IDEA must continue to be met in full; and as has always been the case, all Part B funds may be spent only for the excess costs of providing special education and related services. This section of the statute will be in effect for the Part B funds an LEA receives for the 1999-2000 school year, and for each subsequent year in which Congress increases the appropriation for IDEA. The practical impact of this provision is that if the combined increase in state and federal special education funds you receive in any given year does fully cover the increase in the cost of meeting the special education requirements under IDEA, you will not be able to reduce your local effort, and therefore will not benefit from the flexibility afforded by this change in the statute. 2. IDEA 1411(f)(1)(B) restricts the maximum amount an SEA may set aside for administration and other state-level activities to the maximum amount it could have set aside in 1997-98, increased cumulatively each year by an amount no higher than the rate of inflation. Rep. Goodling states in his letter that: "[sic] 90-98% of increases in appropriations will go to schools. If enacted in 1996-97, this provision alone would have meant an additional $175 million [sic] would have been guaranteed to local schools" This statement may be valid for states that withheld the maximum allowable set-aside (25 percent) in 1997-98. However, in Virginia, we have annually set aside less than the maximum (ranging over the past 19 years between 8 and 11 percent). Because Virginia school divisions have always received more than the minimum amount of Part B funds required under the law, this provision will not significantly affect the amount of Part B funds flowing to school divisions in the Commonwealth. 3. For children who are placed by their parents in private schools,IDEA 1412(a)(10)(A)(i)(I) now limits the amount an LEA must spend on special education and related services to a proportionate amount of Federal funds made available under this part. The degree of relief accorded under this provision depends upon how much a school division is currently spending on such services. Although a significant policy change, we do not believe this provision will provide school divisions in Virginia a great deal of financial relief. It is important to note that for children placed in private schools by school divisions or other public agencies, 1412(a)(10)(B) continues to require the provision of special education and related services at no cost to parents. 4. We share Rep. Goodling's enthusiasm over Congress's third consecutive year of significant increases in federal special education funding. Based on preliminary USDOE estimates, we are advising school divisions to base their 1999-2000 Part B budgets on $610 per child (December 1, 1998 count of SPED children ages 3-21). We are encouraged by the efforts of Rep. Goodling and others in Congress over the past three years to move funding for IDEA toward the level intended when this important legislation was first passed 20 years ago. Questions about this information may be addressed to Mr. John Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (804) 225-2704. PDS:crv Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attach- ment will be sent to the superintendent's office.