June 19, 2019

Congressman Neguse Secures an Additional $1 Billion for IDEA Funding

Washington D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse secured an additional $1 billion for IDEA, the federal grant program that supports students with disabilities. The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill that passed on the House floor today included $13.36 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Act, with an additional $1 billion secured by Congressman Neguse during the appropriations process.

“Across the 2nd district, as I sit down with teachers, school board members and education advocates, the need for increased IDEA funding is a resounding request,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Increased funding for IDEA benefits all students and ensures we are meeting our commitment to students with disabilities. An additional $1 billion funding for state grants will have a real and tangible impact on the students and educators in our district.”

“This further investment in public education is tremendous,” said Sandra Smyser, Poudre School District Superintendent. “School districts across the country, including PSD, will greatly appreciate this increase to direct support for our kids. By supporting efforts to meet the needs of this group of students, you are helping all students.”

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is vital to ensure that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible,” said Cari Brown, Systems Advocacy Specialist and Communications Coordinator at the Arc of Larimer County. “The Arc of Larimer County believes that every child should receive an education that prepares them for a wide array of work and postsecondary options. IDEA being adequately funded is necessary to ensure that children with disabilities have access to appropriate supports in the classroom, access to the general education curriculum, and are supported in identifying postsecondary options that match their skills and interests.”

“This is great news,” said Shelly Benford of the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education. “We have been lobbying for years for the federal government to fund their share of special education costs. Meanwhile, the number of special education students in Colorado is increasing, districts are using general fund money to backfill the cost of mandated services, and the whole system is stressed. This is much needed funding.”

“Colorado would benefit greatly from increased federal funding for IDEA,” said Nora Brown, President of the Colorado PTA. “According to the Colorado Joint Budget Committee briefing for 2019/20, federal funds provide 15.7% of funding for special education.  Colorado provides an additional 20.8%, forcing districts to carve out the remaining 63.5% of the expansive costs necessary to address the needs of SpEd students, which either cannot be met or require significant funds from that which would be used for all other students. Colorado PTA believes that every student deserves adequate resources to meet his or her needs for quality education and success.”

“As a member of the Thompson Board of Education, whose District's percentage of exceptional students is significantly above average and who has programs and teachers that have won numerous awards and national recognition, I can tell you that it's been hard to maintain such exceptional performance while funding for education at the State level is so far below the national average, said Marc Seter, Thompson School District Board of Education. “It's our people that make the difference; they've shown us that they know how to effectively manage the finite resources we have.  So it's with great confidence that I can say just how far this proposed increase in IDEA funding can take us, and — most importantly— just how much of a difference it would mean for our kids.”

“Nothing is more important to us than providing for the many needs of our students,” said Kerry Buhler, Superintendent at Summit School District. “We can’t give our students what they need and deserve without increased support for IDEA funding.”

“Standard funding is based on the student not the need,” said Dave Lockley, a parent, a teacher, and an educational advocate. “Additional IDEA funding helps schools and teachers provide the resources needed to meet the needs of all students.  With additional IDEA funding, needs can be met without having to make choices to sacrifice one student’s needs for the other.”

“Between Federal, State and Local funding we collect between 40% and 45% of the true costs of educating our children identified with special needs.  The rest of the cost is backfilled from our general fund,” said Frank Reeves, Superintendent at East Grand School District. “In the past decade we have seen more students identified with behavioral disabilities and as our numbers increase the gap that we have to make up from our general fund has increased.  By law we are required to provide for the needs of the child as described in the individualized education plan (IEP) and this has typically been in the hiring of more personnel (specialists and/or para-professionals).  An increase to funding IDEA means that we can reduce the amount we need to backfill and in turn can apply those general fund dollars to other areas like school safety, teacher retention, CTE and STEM related activities.”

“We need to recognize that to serve our students with special needs we must go above and beyond. To meet them where they are requires additional resources to keep them safe, to provide individualized learning plans and opportunities that help them reach their full potential, and to meet their unique emotional needs, said Kathy Plomer, Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board President. “Additional funding for IDEA is imperative if we are to keep our commitment to students that rely on us to provide an education that honors who they are. As a school board member in a state where school funding is $2300 below the national average, I can speak to the disconnect between the resources necessary to provide what we know would most benefit students and what we actually receive. This funding would be an important step towards narrowing that chasm.”

In addition to securing the $1 billion increase in IDEA funding for FY2020 during the congressional appropriations process, Neguse is also championing legislation to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.