KDE’s DoSE Advisory Group discusses ESSER II funds, spending requirements

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Directors of Special Education Advisory Group Virtual Meeting: Feb. 17, 2021At a Feb. 17 virtual meeting, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Directors of Special Education (DoSE) Advisory Group discussed new federal funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) Grant Program and how the almost $1 billion coming to Kentucky’s schools may affect districts’ local and state funds used to provide special education and related services.

This new funding may be “quite significant” to some districts, said Chris Thacker, disability administrator from the Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL). Thacker, however reminded the directors that districts must of continue to meet the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The IDEA’s MOE requires districts to spend the same amount or more from state and local funds to provide special education and related services as was spent during the previous school year. Should a district fail to meet the IDEA’s MOE requirements, it could result in having to pay back the federal government from state and local funds an amount equal to the district’s failure to meet the MOE requirement.

Although it may be tempting to use the ESSER II funds to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities, Thacker cautioned the directors that the IDEA’s MOE requirements have not been waived.

Thacker said while districts are allowed to use ESSER II funds to provide special education and related services, OSEEL cautions districts to be careful so as not to reduce expenditures of their state and local funds from the amounts it spent in the previous year to provide services to students with disabilities.

“If a district supplants its state and local expenditures with ESSER I or ESSER II funds, it may be in jeopardy of failing to meet the MOE requirements,” said Thacker.

Thacker advised the directors to meet with their districts’ finance officers and superintendents to discuss how ESSER II funds may impact their MOE requirement. Before accessing ESSER funds to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities, districts should first make sure they have spent a sufficient amount of local or state and local funds to meet the MOE requirement. At that point, the district is free to supplement its state and local expenditures with the ESSER funds.

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