Topic:
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES DEPT.; GROUP HOMES; JUVENILES; SCHOOL DISTRICTS; SCHOOL FINANCE; SPECIAL EDUCATION;
Location:
EDUCATION - SPECIAL - FINANCE;

OLR Research Report


April 29, 2008

 

2008-R-0278

SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS FOR CHILDREN LIVING IN GROUP HOMES

By: Susan Price, Principal Legislative Analyst

You asked who pays special education costs for children living in group homes operated under contracts with state agencies such as the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and attending local public schools in those communities.

SUMMARY

The state and local school districts pay for special education costs of children when a state agency places them in a group home and they attend public school in that community. The state's 100% excess cost grant provides state support for these costs above a specified basic contribution by the local school district. Which school district is responsible for the basic contribution depends on whether (1) a home school district can be identified and (2) the placement was made by DCF or by some other state agency.

Although the statute requires the state to pay all special education costs above the basic contribution, the state's responsibility is limited by the total state appropriation for the year. If the amount appropriated in the budget is not sufficient to fund the excess cost grants for all towns, each town's grant is proportionately reduced. The General Assembly eliminated the cap on the 100% grants for state agency placements for the FY 2005-07 biennium, requiring that they be paid in full. The cap is restored in future years.

100% EXCESS COST GRANT – STUDENT-BASED

This grant, also known as the catastrophic cost grant, provides state support for special education costs above a specified basic contribution by the local school district. The basic contribution differs depending on whether the child receiving special education is placed by the local school district or by a state agency, such as DCF.

For local school district placements, the basic contribution is 4.5 times the district's average per pupil expenditure for the preceding fiscal year. The basic contribution is substantially less for state-agency-placed students. In that case, the district must pay either 100% of the student's special education costs or its average per-pupil expenditure for the prior year, whichever is less. Using North Haven as an example, the municipality's basic contribution for a resident student for FY 2007-08 is $45,143 ($10,032 x 4.5); for a state agency placement, it is $10,032. However, the grant amount for either student category can be reduced if the legislature's appropriation is insufficient to fully fund it (CGS 10-76g)).

Which School District Pays the Basic Contribution

When an agency-placed student has a home district (i.e., his or her parents or guardian reside within the jurisdiction of an identifiable district where he or she would otherwise be attending school), that district is responsible for the basic contribution. When no home district can be identified, and DCF has placed a child who has been committed to the department pursuant to its child protection or delinquency mandates, the local district is responsible for the basic contribution. Finally, when no home district can be identified and DCF places a non-committed child in a group home, the district in which the child attended school immediately before the placement is responsible for up to one calendar year or until the child is committed to DCF, whichever occurs first (CGS 10-76d(e)(2)).

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