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Citizens Advisory Committee On Legislative Affairs (CACLA)

This is the third in a series of articles from CACLA, in which we discuss the subject of unfunded mandates and how they impact the Manhasset Public School District. It is this committee’s goal to educate the community on this subject matter in particular, as it has significant current and long-term ramifications.

Special Education – Minimally Funded Mandates

An unfunded mandate is a statute or regulation (coming from the state or federal government) that requires, in this case, a local public school district to fulfill the requirements of the mandate without adequate funding. The dollar expense of the unfunded mandate must come from the only revenue source a public school district has, i.e., the property taxes each resident is required to pay.

Before we get into the Special Education discussion, it is critical that you know the following: as a result of many unfunded mandates, the Superintendent’s Preliminary Working Budget proposes to exceed the permitted tax levy cap by $5,720,950. To reduce the budget by that amount, i.e., to stay within the permitted tax levy cap, we present examples of what potentially could be cut from our schools:

• Increasing class size at the elementary school level in several cases up to a projected 30 in a class (savings of $1,400,000)

• Reduction of 14 teachers at the secondary school, thus increasing class size and eliminating some course offerings (savings of $1,400,000)

• Eliminating ALL before and after school programs and activities - no clubs, enrichment programs, theatre, music, etc. (savings of $350,000)

• Eliminating ALL interscholastic athletics, middle school, JV, and Varsity (savings of $2,000,000)

Even with these significant cuts, an additional $570,000 of reductions would still be required to stay within the tax levy cap!

In this article, we will look at the impact of the Special Education budget has on the Manhasset Public School District. We’re not talking about the needs of special education children, but only how those needs are to be funded.

The Federal Law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law guaranteeing educational services to all children with disabilities; it governs how states and public agencies provide special education and related services to children from birth to age 21. When IDEA passed in 1975, the federal government pledged to fund up to 40 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure. This level of funding was never reached. In the 2012-2013 school budget, Manhasset received only 5.34 percent of its Special Education budget dollars from Federal sources.

New York State Law

Over the years, New York State has layered IDEA with more than 200 procedures and due process requirements that are not funded or only partially funded. Again, we believe that if these requirements are necessary, they should be fully funded. Due in large part to unfunded mandates, the proposed Special Education budget for the year 2013-2014 will increase by $768,000. Here are two instances of these costly New York State mandates, which actually exceed Federal requirements:

The state has complex timelines from date of referral to a Committee of Special Education (CSE) to the date of recommendations and the obtaining of parental consent. The timelines and procedures create a torrent of paperwork, which require clerical and professional staff, and to some extent overtime. For each case, cost, including time required to complete the paperwork and make evaluations, can range up to $10,000 per case.

The State requires that intervention services must be provided to a student before a student is recommended to the CSE for special services under an IEP. Therefore, each district must have plans and policies in place to provide these support services and interventions. The cost for these services can range from $2,500 to $15,000.

These Federal and State mandates are without significant funding from either the Federal or State governments, thus they put a tremendous burden on the district. The current overall 2012-2013 budget expenditure for Special Education services for the Manhasset Public School District was approximately $14.2 million. As we stated above, in the current school year, Manhasset is only reimbursed for 5.34 percent of these expenses.

You will find all budget-related presentations (department by department and in total) on the School District’s website at: www.manhasset.k12.ny.us.

The school board’s email address, should you wish to contact them is: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

CACLA is a committee consisting of the following Manhasset residents: Paul A. Baumgarten, Chairperson; Marianne Tomei, Secretary; John Delaney

Tim Katsoulis; Thomas Kowalski; Christopher Nesterczuk; Chris Roberts; Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri