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American Recovery & Reinvestment Act 2009

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Uses of ARRA Special Education (IDEA) Funds

The IDEA recovery funds constitute a large one-time increment in IDEA, Part B funding that offers states and LEAs a unique opportunity to improve teaching and learning and results for children with disabilities, ages 3 to 21. All provisions that currently apply to IDEA funds also apply to the IDEA Part B ARRA Funds. An LEA (local education agency) must use IDEA Part B ARRA funds only for the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities, except where IDEA specifically provides otherwise.

Generally, IDEA-ARRA funds should be used for short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits, rather than for expenditures the LEAs may not be able to sustain once the recovery funds are expended. Guidance from the USDOE provided some possible uses of these limited-term IDEA recovery funds that are allowable under IDEA and aligned with ARRA core reform goals. These potential uses of IDEA recovery funds include:

  • Obtain state-of-the art assistive technology devices and provide training in their use to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities.
  • Provide intensive district-wide professional development for special education and regular education teachers that focuses on scaling-up, through replication, proven and innovative evidence-based school-wide strategies in reading, math, writing and science, and positive behavioral supports to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
  • Develop or expand the capacity to collect and use data to improve teaching and learning.
  • Expand the availability and range of inclusive placement options for preschoolers with disabilities by developing the capacity of public and private preschool programs to serve these children.
  • Hire transition coordinators to work with employers in the community to develop job placements for youths with disabilities.

NJDOE Priority Areas Consistent with the USDOE suggestions listed above, the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (NJOSEP) strongly recommends that in planning for the use of the recovery funds, each local district review its local district profiles to identity areas in need of improvement in relation to the New Jersey State Plan Performance targets. Additionally, NJOSEP recommends that local districts update their data systems, as needed, to ensure timely and accurate special education data submissions to NJOSEP. With a focus on improved teaching and learning and results for students with disabilities, NJOSEP has identified three priority areas that should form the basis of the districtís use of the IDEA recovery funds: Expanded In-District Program Options; Positive Student Outcomes; and Upgraded Data Systems.

Priority Area 1: In-District Program Options
Create and/or expand in-district programs options that maximize the opportunities for students with disabilities to be educated with their non-disabled peers.

Priority Area 2: Positive Student Outcomes
Plan and conduct program improvement and personnel development activities in response to local district performance on the indicators listed in the web site below. Districts should refer to the following website for the most recent data profiles that detail local district performance on these indicators: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/sppi0708/

Priority Area 3: Upgraded Data Systems Upgrade current district data systems through purchase of hardware and software systems to: improve student level databases; integrate special education and general education student level databases; design tracking and IEP applications; provide training for staff in using data systems for data driven decision-making.

Coordinated Early Intervening Services
An LEA may (or in some cases must) use up to 15 percent of its total IDEA, Part B Grants to States and Preschool Grants for early intervening services for children in grades K through 12 who are not currently identified as children with disabilities, but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in a general education environment.

Uses of Funds Guidance

For specific questions regarding the use of ARRA IDEA funds please contact arraidea@doe.state.nj.us.

ARRA Special Education (IDEA) Application Process

ARRA Special Education (IDEA) Fund Allocations

ARRA Special Education (IDEA) Guidance Documents

Note: federal guidelines are subject to change and the department will post the most current information as soon as we receive it.