Indiana

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IDOE Faces Special Education Funding Gap

The Department of Education sent a memo last month detailing services it won’t provide money for in new Special Education Excess Cost contracts this year, which includes transportation. (WFIU/WTIU)

The Department of Education sent a memo last month detailing services it won’t provide money for in new Special Education Excess Cost contracts this year, which includes transportation. (WFIU/WTIU)

The Indiana Department of Education is short on money to help schools provide additional special education services for the second year in a row. The department says an uptick in students with disabilities and increased service costs have squeezed that piece of the state budget about halfway through the fiscal year.

If schools have special education service needs that cost more than what’s already in the school’s budget, they can ask the state for some extra cash, but the fund for so-called Special Education Excess Costs (SEEC) will run out early this year. That means the department has to scale back the costs they’re willing to provide funding for. Pam Wright, head of the department’s special education office, says the issue has the department considering some changes to the way it provides those funds.

“I think it’s really important that we take another look at how this is being done, like I said it’s always been first come first serve, but it’s never been an issue before,” Wright says.

Schools that applied for excess cost money before Dec. 1 won’t see a change in those contracts, but applications through the rest of the fiscal year – which ends in June – will see a limited amount of funds. The department sent a memo last month detailing services it won’t provide money for in the new contracts, which includes transportation and one-on-one services.

The state has maintained the $24 million SEEC fund for nearly 30 years, but Wright says lawmakers should consider if that amount is enough.

“That may have been plenty of money you know 20 years ago, 10 years ago but as cost increase and as the needs of students increase it’s an area that probably needs to be looked at,” Wright says.

The department says schools may have to shuffle their budgets in order to meet additional special education student needs until the end of the fiscal year, when SEEC funds are reset.

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Comments

  • Jenny

    Thanks for providing this information! I’m curious how much money our local districts in Monroe County have received from the SEEC fund in the past several years.

  • Merry Juerling

    Let’s be clear here. SEEC funding WAS cut as of 12/1/17 for 6 specific appropriate special education services and appropriate placements and another placement was being considered for a cap on funding. This is a unilateral and illegal denial, per federal law, of free and appropriate services and placements to way too many of Indiana’s special needs students, future citizens by the IDOE. IDOE has a responsibility to go tell our state legislators that full funding of SEEC budget is required by federal law and Governor Holcolm should join with other states to file against the federal Department of Education for the cut in state budgets to fund public schools/special needs student’s free and appropriate services and placements. Anything short of these two actions is educational neglect on the effected students.

  • Mandi

    It’s not just drug babies. Childhood cancer treatment causes all kinds of special needs for children. My daughter before her 10th Birthday was not a special needs student. After cancer treatment had all kinds of special needs for education. 48 children a day are diagnosed with cancer.

  • ryhisner

    Meanwhile, private schools accepting public vouchers remain free to discriminate against those with disabilities while filching revenue from public schools. No funding worries there.

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