Introduction to Special Education Funding
Annually, the US Department of Education grants funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to the State of Wisconsin. The Department of Public Instruction administers the IDEA grant. Part of that administration includes sub-granting to approximately 440 agencies in Wisconsin, mostly to LEAs (school districts and independent charter schools).
The funds that are awarded to LEAs are done so on a non-competitive basis and are meant to help off-set the costs of providing special education instruction and related services to students who have been identified as a student with a disability in need of special education.
IDEA Part B funds are calculated according to a formula established with the IDEA Amendments of 1997. Prior to the 1997 amendments to IDEA, federal funds were distributed on the basis of “child count,” the number of students with disabilities receiving services in an LEA. The formula revisions in the 1997 amendments ended the reliance on child count data and substituted a population factor (total student enrollment), plus a poverty factor.
The formula kept a portion of the old calculation method by determining a base payment, which is the amount that the LEA received in IDEA funds the final year child count was used to determine the allocation. However, since the late 1990s, the IDEA grant to Wisconsin has increased leaving a balance after the base payments are determined. These “new funds” are then distributed to LEAs based on total student enrollment and the number of students living in poverty. Of the new funds, 85% is provided based on a student count of all students enrolled in the LEA, public and private, not just students with disabilities. The remaining 15% of new funds is distributed based on the LEA’s Title I poverty count.
IDEA Flow-through and Preschool Formula Allocations -
(FY 2022-2023 Preliminary Allocation Amounts Posted)
ARPA-IDEA Funding/Coding Procedures for Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
On July 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education released more than $3 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds to states to support infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. The Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will administer and monitor the ARP section 2014(a) funds to states and other designated agencies. In general, these awards are subject to the same requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Uniform Grant Guidance as IDEA formula funds. The awarded ARPA-IDEA funds were “supplemental” to the original FY 2021-2022 IDEA Part B award and the funds followed the existing IDEA allowable costs and procedures (including the 27-month availability time frame). The availability of the supplemental ARPA-IDEA funds ends September 30, 2023. For more information on funding and coding procedures please view the following link ARPA-IDEA Funding/Coding Procedures for Local Education Agencies (LEAs).
This information is also available in a recorded presentation: IDEA ARPA Funds - Tracking - Single Audit
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B entitlement funds awarded to LEAs are available to LEAs for 27 months from the date of award in accordance with the Tydings Amendment, which is referenced in section 421 (20 U.S.C. 1225) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).
The 27 months begins on the day the formula award is made to the LEA, which is July 1 of each fiscal year if DPI has received the LEA’s application in substantially approvable form - which is the signed IDEA Part B Formula assurances through WISEgrants. As an example, flow-through formula funds that are awarded to an LEA on July 1, 2023, are available to the LEA until September 30, 2025.
LEAs that carry over funds from one fiscal year to the next must monitor spending to ensure the amount carried over is claimed within the required timeline or risk losing unspent funds.
Questions on IDEA Part B Formula Allocations may be directed to Glenn Aumann
Questions regarding IDEA Flow-through and Preschool formula grants and fiscal compliance should be directed to the DPI special education fiscal inbox: email@example.com. This inbox is managed by Will Cannon.
To schedule a technical assistance meeting with Will Cannon or Rachel Zellmer, Special Education Team fiscal monitoring consultants, please use our Bookings page.