This categorical aid program provides state funding for special education services to children with disabilities, as well as services to school-age parents. Special education aid is provided under 115.88 and 118.255, and aid for school-age parents falls under 115.93; both are funded through the same appropriation, 20.255(2)(b), and the vast majority of aid is for special education. Like equalization aid, this is a cost-reimbursement program that provides funding based on eligible costs in the prior year.
School districts, CESAs, CCDEBs, and non-district (2r) charter schools can receive special education aid under 115.88. Aid for health treatment related to particular disabilities under 118.255 is available to districts, CESAs, and CCDEBs (not 2rs) with an approved plan, while aid for school-age parent programs under 115.93 is available only to districts.
Only the excess costs of providing special education to children with disabilities (defined in 115.76) and school-age parents are eligible for categorical aid. Aid is available for the salary and benefits of licensed teachers, aides, and support staff, as well as transportation and a few other specific costs. Staff eligibility for categorical aid depends upon both licensure and assignment. The eligibility requirements for categorical aid are generally stricter than for funding under a federal IDEA grant.
See our Expenditure Eligibility and Coding page for more detail on eligible costs.
Special education and school-age parents categorical aid is a sum-certain appropriation in the biennial budget. In both 2013-14 and 2014-15 the total appropriation is $368,939,100. Aid payments are prorated as total eligible costs exceed the appropriation; in recent years the proration rate has been in the range of 25 to 30 percent.
Aid is paid throughout the year over six payments. The first five payments are made on the third Mondays from November through March, each being 15% of the total amount under a conservative proration estimate. A final payment of 25% (plus or minus any adjustments after the proration is finalized) is made the second Monday of June. Revenue should be coded to Fund 27, Source 611.
Special Education Aid and Open Enrollment Changes
The School Management Services team has posted an FAQ related to the changes in open enrollment for students with disabilities that take effect for 2016-17. One point to keep in mind is that the change in law transfers both FAPE and financial responsibility to the enrolling district, which retains any state categorical aids received for a student's cost. The full FAQ is available at:
Rate for Interim Aid Payments in 2015-16
This year's monthly November through March aid payments will be based upon an aid proration rate of 26.25%. Go to the Aid Worksheets page to download the computation file for each payment. A slightly lower rate is used for the interim payments to avoid overpayment. We are not revising the estimate below, as used in the claim software for High Cost Special Education Aid and Transfer of Service.
Estimated Aid Proration Rate for 2015-16
As of July 21, 2015, we are estimating that 2015-16 payments of Special Education and School-Age Parents Aid will reimburse last year's eligible special education costs at a rate of 26.37%. This estimate is based upon an analysis of submitted 2014-15 budget data, and is provided as a service to districts and other LEAs as they develop their budgets for the upcoming year. The final rate will be determined in May for the June payment.
Final and Proration Rate for 2014-15
June 8, 2015 payments of Special Education and School-Age Parents Aid have been determined. Eligible special education costs in 2013-14 have been reimbursed at a rate of 26.79%. Districts and other LEAs may use this percentage in computing any transits of aid owed to others for tuition and support services contracted from eligible LEAs. Details of the final payment have been posted on the SPED/SAP Aid Worksheets page.
Modification to the Licensure Audit for 2014-15
Due to the ongoing transition of DPI licensure and staff reporting to new online systems, the "No Valid License" information provided to auditors as part of the Special Education Audit Program will not be available for audits of the 2014-15 school year. A modified audit procedure involving manual licensure testing will be used. Please see the Audit Manual Index page for more information.