Little Silver superintendent: Extraordinary aid would be appreciated

The superintendent of the Borough of Little Silver’s school district is hoping an increase in extraordinary aid will help support the cost of sending some special education students to out-of-district programs.

On June 30, state Sen. Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey (all D-Monmouth) announced that Gov. Phil Murphy had approved an additional $55 million in extraordinary special education funding to the billions of dollars in school funding that were included in New Jersey’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

Under current law, schools may qualify for extraordinary special education aid if facilities spend more than a certain amount to educate a student with special needs.
A public school district is eligible for the additional funding if it spends more than $40,000 on a student’s education, which is twice the average per-student cost statewide, and can theoretically qualify for up to 90 percent reimbursement of its costs.
“This (action by Murphy) will help our district,” said Carolyn M. Kossack, the superintendent of schools in the Little Silver School District in an interview on July 2.
“Extraordinary aid is reimbursable,” she said. “We will go through this year and figure out what our expenses are. We can apply for reimbursement for those children who cost us more than $40,000 in a public school placement or beyond $55,000 in a private school placement. It’s only the money beyond that dollar amount that we can apply for reimbursement. That doesn’t include transportation (costs).”
Students who have what Kossack previously described as profound disabilities are sent to private schools that specialize in educating children who have specific special needs.
She explained that six special education students in the district cost $40,000 each to educate, while another five special education students cost more than $55,000 each to educate. She said the district will still need to pay the full amount to educate these students.
Previously, Kossack said 25% of Little Silver’s annual school budget funds the education of children who have special needs.
She said the district has previously been reimbursed 50% of the cost of extraordinary aid. The additional $55 million to be distributed among qualifying districts will increase the current 50% reimbursement rate.
“Every one of the 600 school districts in New Jersey will have a potential piece of the pie, if you will,” the superintendent said. “We should all benefit from it. How much we will benefit, I’m not sure yet. It certainly is going to be more than what we received as of lately.”
Kossack said the additional funding is specifically for extraordinary aid, which provides additional aid to districts with students who have certain expenses over an established threshold. The additional funding is not allocated for special education categorical aid, she said.

“It is referred to as special education extraordinary aid because they are considered extraordinary expenses.” Kossack said, adding that services for some pupils who require special services “cost well in excess of $100,000.”

Kossack is not sure how much funding will be received. She said “It’s one big pot of money and 600 school districts. (Our district) is small. We have only 11 students who would qualify for a percentage of that … Anything we get is welcome.”

In a June 30 statement, Gopal announced “We are well on our way to full state funding of extraordinary special education spending. Leaders in local education should be incentivized to provide the best possible special education program they can, not fear the cost increases that can come with a successful school when in-need students move to town.”

Although $55 million for extraordinary special education funding has been secured for school districts in New Jersey, Kossack said the goal of the Every Child Counts campaign, which she described as a separate piece of legislation, is to remove the wealth indicator when state officials determine the amount of categorical aid a school district receives to fund special education services.

Previously, Kossack said, the district receives special education categorical aid to help offset the cost of educating all children who have special needs. Categorical aid is state or federal aid that is intended to finance or reimburse a specific category, instructional or supporting program, or aid a particular group of pupils.

Kossack said about 100 students in Little Silver require special education services. A child who qualifies for an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) and meets a Discrepancy Education Model is classified as a pupil who has special needs.

One-third of funding for special education categorical aid is based on the number of special education students enrolled in a district. Two-thirds of that same funding formula is dependent upon wealth equalization – or equalizing levels of wealth, she said.

She said Senate Republicans are pushing to remove the wealth indicator when calculating the amount of special education categorical aid a school district receives.

0
0
0
0
1

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.