CONCORD, NH – The state Department of Education on May 14 announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education allowing $10.3 million in unspent special education funds to go back out to New Hampshire school districts.
The agreement allows Commissioner Frank Edelblut to redistribute $9.4 million in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Part 2 funds and $838,600 in preschool funds that have accumulated over the past decade. Without such an agreement, New Hampshire would have had to return these funds to the federal government.
Manchester is set to receive $906,912.65.
“Special education costs put huge pressure on New Hampshire school district budgets, but districts have not always been able to use special education grants provided by the federal government,” Edelblut said. “This agreement to send more than $10 million back to New Hampshire schools will make a real difference for special education students across the Granite State.”
On Tuesday, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig reacted to the news.
“Over the past five years, Manchester has seen a 61 percent increase in special education costs, and our school district is projecting to spend approximately $18 million next year,” Craig said.
“Back in January, I spoke to Commissioner Edelblut and Deputy Commissioner Brennan to advocate for Manchester’s fair share of these unspent funds. They were responsive to my request, and I appreciate their work in getting our city, and cities across New Hampshire, access to additional money to address the special education needs of our students,“ Craig said.
Districts will have until September of 2020 to use this new round of special education funding. As part of the agreement, the U.S. Department of Education has asked New Hampshire to adjust how it calculates school population figures to account for private school enrollments. Edelblut will use state set-aside funds to ensure that no New Hampshire school district will see a drop in special education funding next year because of this change.
In order to help school districts make best use of all available special education grants, the New Hampshire Department of Education will hold a series of webinars over the next two weeks.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, permitted expenditures include the salaries of special education teachers and costs associated with related services personnel, such as speech therapists and psychologists. States may use funds reserved for other state-level activities for a variety of specified activities, including:
- support and direct services;
- technical assistance and personnel preparation;
- assisting LEAs in providing positive behavioral interventions and supports; and
- improving the use of technology in the classroom.
Each state has the option to reserve a portion of the funds the state reserves for other state-level activities for a fund to assist LEAs in addressing the needs of high-cost children with disabilities. If the state opts to reserve for this fund, it may reserve a larger portion of its award for other state-level activities, and must reserve at least 10 percent of the amount set aside for other state-level activities for the fund, including monitoring, enforcement, and complaint investigation, and to establish and implement the mediation process required by Sec. 615(e) of IDEA, including providing for the cost of mediators and support personnel.
“I want to thank Secretary DeVos and the Office of Special Education Programs for their flexibility in allowing New Hampshire to use these unspent funds,” Edelblut added. “Special education is a shared responsibility, and I’m glad we could bring local, state, and federal education officials together to reach this agreement.”