Federal government denies Oregon waiver on special education cuts

15 Apr

In the US the Federal Government pays a part of the costs of special education. They are committed to pay 40%, but typically have spent about 17%. If a state reduces special education spending, the federal matching funds are also reduced. That is, unless the state is granted a waiver. So far the federal government has been granting the states waivers as they ask for them. In other words, the states cut special ed funding, but the government doesn’t cut the amount they pay in.

That’s what’s happened until now. Oregon has been denied a waiver. In Feds say Oregon must boost special education funding or face sanctions, Oregonlive.com points out:

The U.S. Department of Education has denied Oregon’s request to reduce special education funding in light of budget cuts and will cut more than $15 million federal funding to schools if the state doesn’t reverse course.

States lose federal special education money if they lower their contribution to those programs without a waiver. Oregon Department of Education officials sought the federal waiver, saying the state faced declining revenue projections throughout the summer, forcing the department to reduce the amount of money supporting special education programs.

But the federal government didn’t see things the same way. U.S. Department of Education officials say Oregon needs to tap into its reserves and return special education funding to 2009-10 levels. If it doesn’t, the federal government will reduce its contribution to the state by $15.7 million for the 2011-12 school year – a direct reduction to local school district budgets.

I am very mixed on this. Yes, I think the federal government should try to push states to maintain special ed funding. Unfortunately, this could cost an additional $15.7M to the state’s special education budget.

4 Responses to “Federal government denies Oregon waiver on special education cuts”

  1. Underfunded April 15, 2011 at 23:56 #

    Confused about the discrepancy between the 40% committed by Fed Gov and the 17% actual funding. Is that because of Federal reductions in response to states underfunding their 60% portion? Or because the 40% commitment is inadequately funded on the Federal level? Or because there has been an exponential increase in special ed needs and what was formerly 40% now only covers 17%? From whence do these numbers come, where I might read more?

    • Sullivan April 16, 2011 at 00:01 #


      In the original form of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) the Federal Government committed to fund 40% of the costs of special education. But “committed” is a strange word in government. They usually pay 17%. This leave states and districts with an underfunded mandate.

      The original law includes the provision, I’ll try to look that up. Here is one discussion http://sitemaker.umich.edu/delicata.356/funding_for_special_needs_education

  2. Red Headphones April 16, 2011 at 01:21 #

    There are funds here that could be used so that there would be no needs for cuts and I think that is what the Fed is referring too. We like to call it a “rainy day fund” the issue is that it can’t be used for just 1 thing, if I remember the law correctly, so in other words if they open the check book for one thing then everything that is underfunded can lay claim to the funds then no more fund. So there is reluctance to use it for anything by legislators.

  3. stanley seigler April 18, 2011 at 03:04 #

    [Underfunded say] Is that because of Federal reductions in response to states under funding their 60% portion? Or because the 40% commitment is inadequately funded on the Federal level?

    [LBRB say] committed is a strange word in government

    suppose it make a bureaucratic difference (fed/state)…but not to special needs folks…


    i understand the rich and corps need tax breaks…and not to worry it will trickle down…and create jobs…like the bush tax cuts did (oh they lost jobs, sorry)…
    well they got it wrong but next time it will work…anyone wanta buy a lake front lot in death valley…and a bridge over the lake…

    as said ad nauseam: its a myth the economy does better under GOPers…eg (re USA legs/voters);

    May 9, 2005 By: Kevin Drum
    REPUBLICANS vs. DEMOCRATS ON THE ECONOMY….Did you know that Democratic presidents are better for the economy than Republicans? Sure you did. I pointed this out two years ago, back when my readership numbered in the dozens, and more recently Michael Kinsley ran the numbers in the LA Times and came to the same conclusion.

    LATimes (2004)
    on 8 economic metrics which administration did best…Democratic presidents trounced Republicans eight out of eight…

    that said dont have much faith the DEMs will do the right thing for special ed folks either…but play the odds.

    stanley seigler

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