Welcome to IDEAMoneyWatch Print E-mail

IDEA Money Watch tracks the $11 billion in annual federal funds provided to states and local school districts for special education.


May 1, 2017: Congress reaches agreement on bill to fund government for the balance of FY 2017. IDEA Part B Grants to states (Sec. 611) get slight increase of $90 million, bringing annual appropriation to $12 billion - an increase of .7 percent over FY 2016. Grants for Preschool (Sec. 619) ($368.2 million) and Grants for Infants and Families (Part C) ($458.6 million) remain unchanged from FY 2016. Meanwhile, the number of students served by all of these programs increased between 2014 and 2015. Read our Balance Sheet blog for additional details.

March 10, 2016: U.S. Senate Appropriations sub-committee holds hearing on the FY17 Budget Request for the U.S. Dept. of Education. 

March 10, 2016: 23 national organizations send letter to Senate and House appropriation committee leaders urging more funding for IDEA

March 2016: Analysis of LEAs identified with significant disproportionality and required to use 15% of IDEA Part B federal funds for Coordinated Early Intervening Services is available here

March 2, 2016: US ED releases proposed new regulations regarding the identification of LEAs as having significant disproportionality. The proposal also makes significant changes regarding how LEAs can spend IDEA Part B federal funds when identified. Comments must be submitted by May 16, 2016.

February 24, 2016: US House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee holds hearing on priorities of the US Dept. of Education. During questioning, Chairman Klein hammers Acting ED Sec'y John King regarding lack of funding for IDEA. 

February 9, 2016: President Obama releases budget request for FY 2017 ... providing no increase for IDEA Part B federal funds to support students with disabilities ages 6-21. 

February 8, 2016: GAO releases new report, State and Local-Imposed Requirements Complicate Federal Efforts to Reduce Administrative Burden.

October 2015: National Center on Special Education in Charter Schools releases new report on funding: Getting Lost While Trying to Follow the Money: Special Education Finance in Charter Schools.

October 29, 2015: US ED affirms hearing officer’s 2014 ruling that New Mexico did not have the right to reduce its special education funding in 201. See story in Albuquerque Journal.

October 19, 2015: GAO releases new report on the local maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements in IDEA. Get the report here.

July 27, 2015: ED releases new Q+A on the final local educational agency (LEA) maintenance of effort (MOE) regulations that were published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015. Get it here.

July 8, 2015: Bill to dramatically change rules regarding local school districts' "maintenance of effort" is introduced in the House of Representatives. Read the blog about HR 2965

June 24, 2015:  Education Commission of the States releases new report on state funding for students with disabilities, including a database containing information about states' primary funding mechanisms

April 28, 2015: ED publishes final federal regulations regarding maintenance of effort requirements for local educational agencies. Read about it here

April 16, 2015: ED Sec'y Arne Duncan testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the Administration's budget request for FY 2016. Watch the hearing here

March 9, 2015: LEA MOE Reductions, Determinations and Use of Part B funds for CEIS data now available. Read the blog and get your data.

March 9, 2015: "Understanding Full Funding" explains what it is and how much your state is owed! Read it here

March 5, 2015: Education Commission of the States issues new report, A Look at Funding for Students with Disabilities.

March 4, 2015: ED Secretary Arne Duncan appears before the House Appropriations Committee to discuss the administration's FY 2016 Budget Request. View the archive of the hearing

February 2, 2015:
The Obama Administration releases its proposed FY 2016 Budget. See highlights of the funding requested for the Dept. of Education.

June 27, 2014:  New America Foundation releases new Policy Brief - Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities.

May 28, 2014: Committee for Education Funding's Response to the FY 2015 Budget Request includes this chart on the history of federal funding for IDEA vs. the commitment to provide 40% of the excess cost of special education. View it here.

April 30, 2014: House leaders request $1.5 billion increase for IDEA. Find out how much your state is owned! Read the Balance Sheet post.

March 4, 2014: President' 2015 budget request provides less than 1 percent increase for IDEA grants to states, keeps federal contribution at 16 percent of excess cost. Read the Balance Sheet post.

February 19, 2014: National Council on Disability and 139 members of the US Congress ask President Obama to increase funding for IDEA in forthcoming FY 15 budget.

January 27, 2014: New Mexico could lose more than $60 Million in special ed federal funding for violating rules on spending for special education services. Read the Santa Fe New Mexican article here. 

January 26, 2014: Education spending balloons but students in some states get more money than others according to a new report by Education Week. Read the Washington Post article here.

January 22, 2014: Congressional budget deal brings increase in IDEA Federal funding for FY 2014. Read our blog for details.

November 12, 2013: NDD United releases comprehensive report on impact of sequestration. Get the report here

November 4, 2013: Republican Senators Alexander and Cornyn request GAO study on implementation f the Maintenance of Effort requirement of IDEA for local school districts experiencing reductions in education funding. Read their letter here

September 18, 2013: U.S. Dept. of Ed proposes new amendments to IDEA Part B local maintenance of efforts requirements. Read a summary of the proposed amendments and how to submit comments.  

September 12, 2013: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that states’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less. Read it here.

September 10, 2013: STATELINE reports on emerging signs of impact of sequestration on special education. Read it here

August 28, 2013: Sequestration really kicks in for the 2013-2014 school year. Read this ThinkProgress article for details from across the country. Tell us about more cuts to special education. 

July 1, 2013: Ohio Dept. of Education releases info on cuts for upcoming school year due to sequestration. IDEA will be reduced by $23 million. Check out details by program and district.

July 1, 2013: Broward County School District - the nation's 6th largest - announces special ed cutbacks due to sequestration. See how much your state will lose.

March 4, 2013: Stateline reports on the 5 states most vulnerable to sequestration's education cuts. They are North Dakota,  Mississippi, New Mexico, Idaho and South Dakota—the five states that rely most heavily on federal education money. Read the full story.

February 28, 2013: IDEA Cuts Begin Tomorrow! Find out how much your state will lose in IDEA funding, then contact your members of Congress to stop this madness.

September 17, 2012: OMB releases report on impact of sequestration, predicting a reduction of 8.2% to education programs. Read it here.

September 5, 2012: Fordham Institute releases new report, Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education. Read it here.

July 20, 2012: US Dept. of Education sends letter to Chief State School Officers regarding the impact of sequestration on several federal funding accounts that are advance funded, including IDEA. Read the letter here

April 19, 2012: We are tracking the $5 million planned reduction of local spending for special education in Pittsburgh Public Schools. Read about it here

April 4, 2012: U.S. Dept. of Education issues letter to the Center for Law and Education regarding IDEA maintenance of effort requirement for local school districts. Read our blog post and the letter here

April 2, 2012:  IDEA Money Watch releases Sequestration FAQs and potential cuts to IDEA funding for every state.

February 13, 2012: Obama released budget proposal for FY2012, forgets about special education. Read about it in our blog post.

February 3, 2012: IDEA Money Watch posts updated data on reductions to maintenance of effort (MOE) and use of IDEA funds for early intervening services in 2009. Visit our Balance Sheet blog post to get the data for each state and local district.

June 21, 2011:  The U.S. Dept. of Education has denied a request from Iowa for a waiver allowing the state to reduce its state financial aid to local school districts in 2010 and also adjust the waiver previously granted. More information.

June 17, 2011:  The U.S. Dept. of Education has denied a request from South Carolina for a waiver allowing the state to reduce its state financial aid to local school districts in 2010 and 2011. The state had requested a waiver for each of 3 consecutive years, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The waiver request for 2009 was granted. More information

June 16, 2011: IDEA Money Watch responds to a new report out of the American Enterprise Institute, "Something Has Got to Change," packed with interesting assertions, bad information, and food for thought. Read it here.

June 14, 2011: Stateline reports on education budgets across the nation. To date, governors have proposed a net of $2.5 billion in cuts to K-12 education and $5 billion in cuts to higher education, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Read the story. 

April 12, 2011: U.S. Dept. of Education grants waivers to Alabama and New Jersey allowing these states to reduce financial support for special education to local school districts. Oregon's request was denied. The U.S. Dept. of Education has a new web page that details its procedures for considering state requests to reduce financial support to local districts due to economic hardship and lists the states that have made a waiver request, including all documentation and USED response.

April 5, 2011: Council for Exceptional Children releases results of national survey on economic impact on special education. Results show that school districts across the nation are struggling to meet the needs of students with disabilities despite IDEA Recovery Act funds. More.

February 16, 2011: Cuts to IDEA Grants to States in House Continuing Resolution spark a discussion between Hal Rogers and kids with disabilities. Washington Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers comes to the rescue.

November 30, 2010: The Advocacy Institute and the Center for Law and Education Issue Letter to US ED. The letter asks OSEP Director, Dr. Melody Musgrove, to review current guidance provided by the U.S. Dept. of Education to States on monitoring of local educational agencies (LEAs) and references CLE's August 2009 memorandum challenging USED Guidance to States...Read the letter and memorandum here.

July 2010: GAO Recovery Act report finds States could provide more information on education programs to enhance the public’s understanding of fund use ... and provides 50 summaries from local districts on how they're spending their funds. Get the report here

June 2010: ARRA funds shift from "innovation" to "preservation." In a June Technical Assistance Webinar, the U.S. ED encouraged states and districts to show "courage" in using stimulus funds to hire personnel and minimize layoffs in the upcoming 2010-11 school year. More here.

May 2010: "Investing Wisely and Quickly" ... This report from the Council of Great City Schools provides results from a survey of forty (40) Great City School districts that received a total of $7.3 billion in IDEA, Title I, and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds via the Recovery Act. Get details here.

Stimulating Equity? A report from the Campaign for Educational Equity recommends another round of ARRA funding for education...but first, close the IDEA MOE loophole! Get the full report here.

IDEA Money Watch on Rose Moore Show ... Candace Cortiella and Mark Halpert discuss IDEA Recovery Act issues on the Rose Moore Internet Radio Show. Listen here

January 6, 2010: Wall Street Journal runs this story about the redirecting of special education funds provided to local districts by the Recovery Act. IDEA Money Watch contributed to the development of this story. Read it here

December 2009: GAO Report finds half of eligible LEAs plan to reduce local sped spending, more...investigated the "Status of States’ and Localities’ Use of Funds and Efforts to Ensure Accountability" by conducting a survey of 16 states and certain localities in those jurisdictions, as well as the District of Columbia. Findings showed roughly half of eligible LEAs plan to reduce local spending on special education as allowable under the IDEA. Several States reported changing the process used to make LEA determinations. Read the report here. The GAO also issues bimonthly reviews of use of Recovery Act funds in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Check out your state's report here

October 21, 2009: U.S.ED releases letter to State Chiefs and State Sped Directors re MOE Reduction...US Education Secretary Arne Duncan releases a Letter to Chief State School Officers and State Directors of Special Education urging states to maintain high standards and not compromise the section 616 determination process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act  in view of the large increase in IDEA Part B federal funds that LEAs are receiving as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Read the letter here.

September 4, 2009: U.S.ED New Guidance on Use of IDEA ARRA Funds...clarifies that all IDEA Part B funds must be used only to pay the excess costs of providing FAPE to children with disabilities. Guidance on RTI also clarifies use of IDEA funds for this purpose. 

July 13, 2009: Capital Hill Briefing on IDEA ARRA Funds:: Multiple Perspectives...At this July forum, IDEA Money Watch founder, Candace Cortiella, participated in a panel discussion on use of ARRA funds for special education. Full story here

American Association of School Administrators :: Top five reported uses for ARRA IDEA funds...A survey of 160 school administrators conducted in July and August 2009 reports on how districts are using education Recovery Act funds. Read the Press Release here. Get the survey results here.