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Special Education Listserv

Subject: ARRA/Clarification on IDEA Expenditures/Bus Purchases

Source: Shelley (Witherbee) Woods, Director, Funds Management

Intended Audience: Special Education Directors, Financial Administrators, Superintendents

Date: July 13, 2009

Guidelines for expending Part B IDEA and ARRA funds have been further clarified through conversations with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  OSEP has indicated that all expenditures with IDEA funds must be directed 100% toward Special Education, otherwise the cost should be prorated, unless the benefit to non-special education students is incidental and justifiable.

Proration can be done based on a percentage or number of students with disabilities or by attributing the cost of certain features of a purchase to a child with a disability (for example a 54 passenger bus has a lift for one child in a wheelchair.  IDEA would pay the cost of the lift or 1/54th of the cost of the bus and other funds would pay the balance of the purchase price).

Example of Justifiable incidental benefit to non-special education students:

A district bought a 12 passenger small bus for 9 students with disabilities. The bus picks up two additional non-disabled students on the same route that are siblings of the students with disabilities.  This is a justifiable incidental benefit because that bus had to make those stops anyway for the students with disabilities, no additional stops were needed. This would be a purchase that could be paid 100% with IDEA funds.

Example of Unjustifiable incidental benefit to non-special education students:

A district bought a 54 passenger bus with wheelchair capabilities for 3 students with disabilities in wheelchairs. There are 50 non-disabled students on the same route. While this purchase may benefit the disabled students, the bus had to make multiple extra stops that weren’t necessary for the students with disabilities. The benefit to non-disabled students is more than incidental, and therefore the cost must be prorated based on the number/percentage of students with disabilities. 

Capital Outlay requests will be approved/disapproved based on this additional guidance. Districts should make every effort to prorate expenditures when non-disabled students benefit more than incidentally as described above. Please include the proration methodology used for all capital outlay requests on the application form.