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 IDEA and the Recovery Act

Q1. What types of education programs receive funding from the Recovery Act?

A1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) provided $787 billion in federal spending focused on addressing the nation’s economic difficulties. Of that amount, $115 billion was designated for education related purposes.

While almost half ($53.6 billion) of the education funds in the Recovery Act were allotted to a fund called the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), several education programs also receive significant funding. These programs include:

$12.2 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These special education funds are distributed as follows:

  • $11.3 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to States for school-aged students. The nation’s schools currently provide special education services to 6,007,832 school-aged students with a wide range of conditions. This represents approximately 13.5% of the total public school enrollment.
  • $400 million for IDEA Part B (Section 619) for preschool children. Services for 710,371 children ages 3-5 are provided under this section of the special education law.
  • $500 million for IDEA Part C Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program. Currently 322,345 children birth through age 2 are being provided early intervention services under this section of the IDEA. 

$13 billion for Education for the Disadvantaged (including Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind). The nation’s largest single federal investment in schooling, Title I serves 12.5 million students enrolled in both public and private schools. The majority of those served (65 percent) are in grades 1 through 6.  

$930 million for education research. The Institute for Education Sciences received $250 million while $680 million goes for Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research.

This graphic provides a detailed look at all of the education funding in the Recovery Act.

 

 Q2. Are the IDEA funds provided in the Recovery Act in addition to the regular annual federal appropriations these programs receive each year? 

A2. Yes, the Recovery Act funds provided an additional one-time appropriation for IDEA programs. The Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-8) provides federal funds for FY09 for IDEA as follows:

  • $11.5 billion for IDEA Part B Grants to States for school-aged students
  • $374 million for IDEA Part B (Section 619) for preschool children
  • $439 million for IDEA Part C Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program

The Recovery Act funds were considered part of the FY09 federal appropriation. Al Recovery Act funds must be obligated by September 30, 2011. Rate of obligation by state is available here

 

 Q3. How will IDEA Recovery Act funds be distributed to local school districts?  

A3. The IDEA Recovery Act funds are distributed to states using the funding formula required by the IDEA. States, in turn, distribute the funds to local school districts based on a formula in IDEA. The U.S. Department of Education has published a chart showing the distribution of FY08, Recovery Act and  FY09 funds to each state for all education programs. Information on IDEA Part B grants and special education population can be found in the State IDEA Info section.  An estimated amount distributed to each local school district is available here.

 Q4. When will states and local school districts receive the IDEA Recovery act funds? 

A4. The IDEA Recovery Act funds were distributed as follows:

April 1, 2009: The U.S. Department of Education released 50% of the IDEA Recovery Act funds. Specifically, these amounts released by IDEA program were:

  • $5.7 billion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B grants to states.
  • $200 million of the IDEA, Part B preschool grants.
  • $250 million of the IDEA, Part C grants for infants and families.

States are expected to make these funds available to its local school districts by the end of April 2009.

October 1, 2009: The U.S. Department of Education released the balance of all IDEA Recovery Act funds. The balance of the funds by program will be:

  • $5.7 billion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B grants to states.
  • $200 million of the IDEA, Part B preschool grants.
  • $250 million of the IDEA, Part C grants for infants and families.

 

Q5. How long to local school districts have to spend the IDEA Recovery Act funds? 

A5. IDEA Recovery Act funds must be obligated by September 30, 2011. The U.S. Department of Education has encouraged districts to spend the bulk of the funds during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, with any remaining funds spent during the 2010-2011 school year.

 

Q6. Where do I find the amount my local school district will receive in IDEA Recovery Act funds? 

A6. The amount of IDEA Recovery Act funds that each state will distribute to its local school districts should be posted on the state department of education websites. You can find your state’s education website here. Also, an estimated amount distributed to each local school district is available here.

 

Q7. How can the IDEA Recovery Act funds be spent?

A7. The allowable uses for these funds are the same as they always are for IDEA funds. The U.S. Department of Education has stated that the IDEA Recovery Act funds

“will provide an unprecedented opportunity for states, LEAs, and EIS programs to implement innovative strategies to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities while stimulating the economy.” 

However, the U.S. Department of Education has also cautioned that these funds represent a one-time allocation. As such, funds should be used for investments that can be sustained after Recovery Act funding expires. Some recommended use of IDEA Recovery Act funds are:

  • Assistive technology devices and training in their use;
  • Focused professional development;
  • Data collection enhancements;
  • Expanding the availability and range of inclusive placements for preschool children with disabilities; and
  • Hiring transition coordinators and job developers for students entering the workforce.

 

Q8. Should IDEA Recovery Act funds be used to avert teacher layoffs or restore local funding levels that would otherwise be reduced due to the current economic crisis and state and local revenue shortfalls?

A8. No. Funds for these purposes are provided to local school districts through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF). This fund is distributed through the Governors of each state. Governors must use approximately 81% of their state SFSF allocation to support elementary, secondary and post secondary education, and, as applicable, early childhood education programs and services. The overall purpose of the SFSF is to restore funding to education programs that may have been cut because of the current economic crisis and state budget shortfalls.

Using IDEA Recovery Act funds for these purposes could likely result in a violation of the IDEA’s “supplement not supplant” provision. The “supplement not supplant” provision requires that local school districts maintain their local level of expenditures on special education services and only use IDEA federal funds to supplement the local expenditures. Any suspected inappropriate use of IDEA Recovery Act funds should be reported to the state department of education and the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education. Contact information for the Inspector General’s office is available here.

 

Q9. Can IDEA Recovery Act funds be used for purposes other than activities to support special education services to eligible students?

A9. The IDEA Recovery Act funds are subject to all provisions in current IDEA federal law and regulations. Those provisions provide some ways that local school districts can use a portion of IDEA federal funds (up to 15%) to provide services for students not eligible for special education – called Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS).

While use of up to 15% of IDEA federal Part B funds for CEIS is optional for most local districts, some districts are required to use this option because they have been found to have an overrepresentation of minority or ethnic students in special education identification, placement, or disciplinary actions. In such cases, the local district must use all of the CEIS funds and must devote most but not all of the CEIS funds to serve children in the over identified group or groups.

Additionally, under certain conditions, local school districts are allowed to reduce the amount spent on special education by up to 50% of an increase in federal or state and federal funds from one year to the next. The freed-up funds must be used for activities authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Since all IDEA Recovery Act funds are considered FY09 appropriations, this means that the increase in federal funds from FY08 to FY09 for most local districts is more than double, allowing local districts to reduce the local expenditure by roughly half of the amount of the IDEA Recovery Act funds. If local districts elect to reduce local expenditures by this amount, the new lower amount becomes the level of expenditure required to meet its maintenance of effort (MOE).

States must prohibit local districts from reduce its local expenditures by any amount if:

  • The district received a determination by the state as "Needs assistance," "Needs Intervention" or "Need Substantial  Intervention" under the monitoring system required by IDEA;
  • If the state has taken responsibility for providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the district because the district is unable to establish and maintain programs of FAPE, or the state has taken action against the district under IDEA  

In addition, local districts that are required to use 15 percent of its IDEA Part B federal funds on Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) as described above may not reduce their local expenditures by any amount.

 

Q10. Where can I find information on a local school district’s determination required by the IDEA monitoring system and its designation as having an over representation of students from minority or ethnic groups?

A10. Information about your local school district’s determination (one of these four ratings: “Meets Requirements,” "Needs assistance," "Needs Intervention" or "Needs Substantial  Intervention”) must be posted on your state’s department of education website. Information regarding a designation of over representation (also called “disproportionality”) should also be available. You can find your state’s education website here

In addition, your local school district office should be able to provide answers to these questions. If you are unable to find the determination and disproportionality information, contact your state department of education and request that the information be provided to you.

 

Q11.  Are IDEA Recovery Act funds subject to different accountability measures than the regular IDEA federal appropriations?  

A11. Yes. The Recovery Act mandates strict reporting of the use of all funds. Local districts will be required to submit quarterly reports that detail all revenue and expenditures.

 

 
 

Blog Bytes

IDEA Money Watch Blog :: The Balance Sheet
> President's Budget Provides Less than 1% boost for IDEA
> Budget Deal brings IDEA increase
> Advocate/Activist's Call to Action
> New Report on Impact of Sequestration
> US Dept. of Ed proposes new regulations for LEA MOE
> State-by-state IDEA funding cuts under Sequestration
> US Dept. of Ed retracts MOE guidance challenged by IDEA Money Watch!
> Senate gives IDEA funding a boost
> Obama ignores special ed, again!
> Can You Say "Sequestration?"
> Comments to National Council on Disability
> Money Doesn't Trump Blame Game
> Deal or No Deal: ED's new info on LEA MOE provisions
> IDEA Money Watch responds to AEI report on Special Education Spending

> Meet the ARRA Albatross
> Funding Cliff Comes to New Hanover

LEA reductions in MOE
> State by state data available here
> 100 Largest School District info here

State MOE Waiver Requests ::
AL, IA (FY10), IA (FY11) KS, NJ, OR, SC, WV

Tutorial :: Understanding the Impact of IDEA Federal Funds and ARRA Funds over Time

Video :: The Business of Special Education

MOE Basics ::  Essential info on IDEA Maintenance of Effort

IDEA Money Watch hits YouTube

WI: Milwaukee Schools announced big cuts for 2012

NC: New Hanover district plans big cuts to special education

NY: State shifts special ed costs to districts

TX: Districts cut sped in spite of stimulus

KS may forfeit federal funds due to budget reduction

AZ's Gilbert SD announces cuts

FL district announces layoffs

GA district cuts teachers and paras

HI cuts special ed jobs for 09-10

IA district to eliminate special ed jobs 

IN districts announce special education cuts

IL's Chicago needs more Stimulus Oversight

KY district hands out "Wish Lists" Grants

OH districts buy technology with ARRA

CO BOCES uses IDEA ARRA Funds to pay for mismanagement

UT district buys computers that sit in boxes

MO district uses IDEA Funds Unwisely

VA district uses IDEA Funds for Co-Teaching PD

KPS4Parents, Inc. gives IDEA Money Watch 2 thumbs up!

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IL, MI and MO announce LEA Rating Changes