When Congress passed the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, it promised to fund, with federal dollars, 40% of the special education costs expended by states and local boards of education. Except as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, Congress has failed to meet this commitment, appropriating only about half of the promised amount.
Connecticut funds local special education in two principal ways. First, Connecticut provides Education Cost Sharing Grants to towns, based on a variety of factors that result in relatively large grants per student in poor towns and smaller or no grants to higher-income towns. Somewhere over $2 billion is provided to districts in this way. Although no money is specifically earmarked for special education through ECS grants, the grants help fund special education programs, particularly in poorer communities and cities. Second, Connecticut provided excess cost reimbursement on a student-by-student basis for special education programs that cost more that 4.5 times the average per pupil cost in a district. The legislature has appropriated slightly less than $140 million for this, meaning that the reimbursement rate is at about 70% of the excess cost amount. Looked at from another angle, the appropriation for excess cost reimbursement works out to $2,000 per special education student.
While these two funding streams may not be the most rational ones to fund special education, SEEK-CT’s greater concern is that local school boards are provided with the resources they need to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
SEEK of CT is a social welfare organization, organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax-deductible for the individual or corporation making the donation. 501(c)(4) organizations are required to disclose certain information publicly, although we are not required to disclose the name and address of any contributor to the organization. Under this statute, we are permitted to lobby extensively and to participate in political activity in support of or opposition to candidates for office, as long as such election activities are not our primary activity