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Desk of Herricks Superintendent Dr. John Bierwirth: March 18, 2011

Possible Costs of Proposed Shifts

In Special Education

Six months ago we heard that the New York State Budget Department was quietly trying to re-write the State Aid formula for certain special education expenses in order to shift certain costs from the State budget to local districts. This was apparently being done without the knowledge of State legislators.

When Governor Cuomo announced his budget proposal, including proposed State Aid to school districts, he did not mention any proposed changes in the funding of certain special education programs. Accordingly, Newsday and every other paper in New York only ran charts showing proposed cuts in State Aid. That was over a month ago.

What has quietly emerged in the past few days are proposed changes in special education funding, the collective impact of which could be as high or higher than the proposed cuts in State Aid on Herricks. Very simply the Governor appears to be trying to change what has been the State’s share of certain special education programs to local districts. Local districts already pay for most of the cost of special education, but, historically, the State has paid a portion of the cost. The proposed changes would reduce that portion even further, requiring Herricks to add these costs to its budget. What appears to be at risk is State funding in several areas.

1. State support for summer programs for special education students whose needs require more than the regular school year – potential shift - $400,000

2. State support for 4201 schools – potential shift - $372,000

3. Change of State share for cost of students who require residential programs – potential shift - $125,000

4. Cap in aid for high cost special education students – potential shift - $385,000

Total Potential Shift    $1,282,000

We previously estimated that the loss in State Aid under Governor Cuomo’s proposal was $1.1 to $1.3 million. These proposed changes could double that.

Please note that these programs and services are largely mandated by State and Federal regulations.