Introduction to Special Education Funding
Annually, the US Department of Education grants funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to the State of Wisconsin. The Department of Public Instruction administers the IDEA grant. Part of that administration includes sub-granting to approximately 440 agencies in Wisconsin, mostly to LEAs (school districts and independent charter schools).
The funds that are awarded to LEAs are done so on a non-competitive basis and are meant to help off-set the costs of providing special education instruction and related services to students who have been identified as a student with a disability in need of special education.
IDEA Part B entitlement funds are calculated according to a formula established with the IDEA Amendments of 1997. Prior to the 1997 amendments to IDEA, federal funds were distributed on the basis of “child count,” the number of students with disabilities receiving services in an LEA. The formula revisions in the 1997 amendments ended the reliance on child count data and substituted a population factor, plus a poverty factor.
The formula kept a portion of the old calculation method by determining a base payment, which is the amount that the LEA received in IDEA funds the final year child count was used to determine the allocation. However, since the late 1990s, the IDEA grant to Wisconsin has increased leaving a balance after the base payments are determined. These “new funds” are then distributed to LEAs based on total student enrollment and the number of students living in poverty. Of the new funds, 85% is provided based on a student count of all students enrolled in the LEA, public and private, not just students with disabilities. The remaining 15% of new funds is distributed based on the LEA’s Title I poverty count.
The following two modules provide further information on special education funding in Wisconsin:
Module 1: Sources of Special Education Funding
IDEA Flow-through and Preschool LEA Allocation Amounts
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B entitlement funds awarded to LEAs are available to LEAs for 27 months from the date of award in accordance with the Tydings Amendment, which is referenced in section 421 (20 U.S.C. 1225) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).
The 27 months begins on the day the entitlement award is made to the LEA, which is July 1 of each fiscal year if DPI has received the LEA’s application in substantially approvable form. As an example, flow-through entitlement funds that are awarded to an LEA on July 1, 2014, are available to the LEA until September 30, 2016.
LEAs that carry over funds from one fiscal year to the next must monitor spending to ensure the amount carried over is claimed within the required timeline or risk losing unspent funds.
Printable Version: http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/files/sped/pdf/idea-carryover.pdf
Further questions regarding IDEA Flow-through and Preschool Entitlement budgets should be directed to the DPI special education consultant assigned to the district. A listing of consultant assignments can be located at http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/sped_sepcontact.