Federal special education cuts softened, but only for this year

Recent education cuts brought on March’s federal budget sequestration won’t harm special education programs in Michigan as much as originally projected — at least not this year, according to the state Department of Education.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding for Michigan’s special education progress was cut by 5 percent, or $22 million, after Congress was unable to find a budget solution to avoid sequestration.

However, the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has been able to cobble together $10 million through a combination of budget carryovers and other revenue sources, the MIRS newsletter reported this week. That money will go directly to intermediate school districts to help support local special education programs.

There’s no cause for celebration, though, as ISDs will still receive at least $12 million less than they did last year for special education. In addition, the $10 million the state pulled together is a one-time partial fix; no one yet knows what will happen next year.

Eleanor White, director of the state Office of Special Education, told MIRS that her office is paying “very close attention to what's happening at the federal government.”

“We know that sequestration could continue, and that we could experience another cut next year,” White said.