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Special education more than a political football Posted: 10/30/02 by Brett Andersen
Staff Writer In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which opened the doors of public education to millions of disabled children.
In 2002, a commonly held belief and political mantra is that the federal government contributed to school funding shortfalls by failing to live up to the financial promises associated with the IDEA.
According to West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School District 197 Director of Special Programs Tom Schoepf, the federal government actually promised to fund 40 percent of the excess costs of special education. For example, if the district spends $6,500 on a traditional student and $9,000 on a special needs student, the federal government would reimburse 40 percent of the $2,500 difference.
Schoepf said the percentage of reimbursement will vary slightly from district to district and District 197 is receiving approximately 14 percent.
However, Schoepf said, if they would receive the full 40 percent, school districts would still have budget concerns because special education is only one of the increasing costs. Skyrocketing health insurance costs combined with inflation, increasing salaries and other costs have contributed to budget concerns, he said.