Reducing the Amount of Money Spent on Special Ed
July 18, 2011 noon
What happens to special education when federal stimulus dollars run out?
IDEA Money Watch, a watchdog group that monitors special ed expenditures, including Recovery Act funds, fears that school districts could begin to cut back their spending in the coming year. And it has reason to.
In 2009, schools districts were allowed to supplant up to half of their local spending required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the federal special ed law) with stimulus dollars. Now that the stimulus dollars are running out, they don't necessarily have to return their local allocations to the previous level -- so a lot of services geared for students with disabilities could suffer in the coming year.
IDEA Money Watch obtained the district-level data for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, which show how much school districts received in federal funding before the stimulus and in the ARRA year-- and how much they reduced local spending because of the increased federal funds. Not all districts reduced spending.
Among those that did, some districts probably will return to their previous levels of spending -- but many may not. And you probably will want to explore that question with your local officials.
P.S. IDEA Money Watch also provides an interesting tutorial on how the complicated stimulus spending works.