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Friday, September 2, 2011

Maintenance of Effort

Education Week reports:
School districts that want to reduce special education spending from one year to the next without restoring what was cut now have the blessing of the U.S. Department of Education.

In the past, federal law was interpreted to mean that once a district set its special education budget, it could not be reduced permanently except for very specific reasons. One of those exceptions to the so-called maintenance-of-effort rule were limited to decreased expenses, such as when an experienced, highly paid special education teacher retired or a high-needs student left a district. Cutting the special education budget for other reasons meant a district was running the risk of losing its share of federal funds.

But a letterRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader to the National Association of State Directors of Special Education in June from the Education Department, now says otherwise.

A school district “is not obligated to expend at least the amount expended in the last fiscal year for which it met the maintenance-of-effort requirement. In other words, each year’s [district] maintenance-of-effort obligation is based on the actual amount expendedin the immediate prior fiscal year,” wrote Melody Musgrove, the director of the office of special education programs.