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Special Education Listserv

Subject: ARRA/Stimulus Monies

Source: Heidi Atkins Lieberman, Assistant Commissioner

Intended Audience: Directors of Special Education, Special Education Contacts, and Special Education Stakeholders

Date: April 9, 2009

We are getting many questions on IDEA ARRA/Stimulus package.  While we have had several SELS messages on this topic and the DESE website contains a lot more information and documents, I wanted to get you a couple of summary lists that I hope will be helpful.  The first list includes several items I want to be sure you know.  The second list contains a preliminary list of ideas for how to use the stimulus monies, most of which I recently shared on last week's webinar.  We hope to have the IDEA allocation for stimulus monies out to you in a few days.

Things you need to know:

1. DESE will NOT be receiving any extra monies from the stimulus money to retain as the state agency (no increase in the set aside monies/administration/targeted funds).  ALL monies from the stimulus package are to be flowed to school districts.

2. The supplement/not supplant requirements are interpreted in IDEA to be the same as the Maintenance of Effort requirement; therefore, as long as a school district continues to spend the same amount of local/state monies in the current year on special education compared to the prior year in total or per capita, the district is in compliance with MOE/Non-supplant requirements.

3. All expenditures of IDEA stimulus monies must be tracked by the LEA and reported to DESE who must in turn report those expenditures to the federal level.  Each and every penny will have to be accounted for, and while we do not have a final list of data elements, we know one of them is identification of all jobs created by the stimulus monies or retained because of the stimulus monies.

4. All IDEA stimulus monies must be expended by LEAs under the same rules/requirements as regular IDEA monies.  However, additional reporting requirements will be required.

5. All IDEA stimulus monies must be obligated by September 30, 2011, and liquidated within 90 days of that date.

6. School districts that have not met the IDEA "excess cost" requirements as calculated in the current fiscal year (FY 2009) will not receive any IDEA monies in FY 10.  At this time, we do not anticipate this applying to any districts.

7. Current IDEA regulations allow for school districts to adjust (reduce) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) by 50% of an increase in the annual Part B allocation as compared to the prior year allocation.  This option is a more useful option now as the FY 10 Part B allocation could be significantly larger that the FY 09 allocation.  However, there are a couple of things to consider when an LEA takes this adjustment:

a. The amount of early intervening services (EIS) reduces the amount of this MOE adjustment by the amount of EIS expenditures.

b. If an LEA takes the 50% adjustment to MOE, existing regulations require the LEA to use an amount of local funds equal to the MOE reduction to expend on activities allowable under ESEA (Title programs/NCLB) with no reporting requirement.  Adjusting MOE based on the larger allocation of stimulus money creates a new reporting requirement.  Under these conditions, an LEA must report to DESE (who will in turn report to the feds), how these local funds (made available after the MOE adjustment), were expended.

 

Ideas for spending stimulus monies:

o Formation of special education cooperatives so that several districts can pool their resources particularly around Deaf Education or Visually Impaired programs or programs for students who are Autistic.

o Identifying staff in district to serve as in-district autism consultants and training them through the Project Access program so you can grow your own in-district autism consultants or contracting with Missouri Autism Consultants (MACs) through Project Access so you can bring in expertise to train and consult with your team in-house and develop in-house expertise and local capacity.

o Hiring of additional paraprofessionals to help in classrooms with students with disabilities to lighten the load on teachers.

o Purchase of assistive technology devices required by IEPs.

o Purchase or maintain electronic IEP systems (or contribute to the cost of a State-Wide Electronic System if we move forward on that).

o Purchase progress monitoring tools to use with students with disabilities.

o High quality professional development for staff who work with students with disabilities particularly on evidenced-based practices and instruction.

o Creation of Parent Liaison positions who can provide support, information, and training to parents of children with disabilities in your school district as well as help improve the relationship between staff and parents.

o Hire post-secondary Transition Coordinators.

o Hire Work Experience Coordinators (for work experience opportunities for children with disabilities) o Payment of Stipends for teachers to attend high quality professional development outside of contract hours.

o Payment to substitutes to free teachers to attend high quality professional development that enables them to serve children with disabilities better.

o Payment to new special education teachers hired to shadow/overlap retiring special education teachers for one to two years.