Circuit Breaker

Circuit Breaker


Special education provides assistance to
students with exceptional needs. Studentsmust meet specific qualifications in order to be eligible for special education services. Services may be
provided in district like, assistance via an instructional assistant or a speech
and language therapist or it may need to be provided outside of the district
through a specialized program. The cost of these additional services may be in the thousands of dollars or the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the
students needs. There are costs associated with both in district and out of
district programs and it varies widely based on the needs of the child and
where the services are delivered. There are multiple state and federal funding sources for special education services. For right now though, let’s focus in on one called circuit breaker. In MA, circuit breaker is the name of the program for receiving partial state reimbursement for special education costs. Think about the circuit breakers in your home. They are there to prevent damage in case of a large or unexpected power surge. In the case of
special education, circuit breaker reimbursement is available to help cover
the costs of large and sometimes unexpected special education services, so that the overall financial health of the district isn’t damaged. It is calculated for each student and then totaled to get the full district reimbursement. Ready for some math? Let’s look at Student A with a total cost to educate of
$40,000. First we check to see if the student qualifies for circuit breaker
reimbursement. there is a minimum which is four times the average cost to
educate a student in Massachusetts, currently about $45,000. tSince student A’s needs cost less than the minimum, Student A’s district does
not receive any circuit breaker assistance with the cost of educating
him or her. Now let’s look at student B with a total cost to educate of one hundred thousand dollars. That cost is more than the minimum so
circuit breaker reimbursement applies. Next, subtract the minimum from the total
cost to educate totaling $55,000. The legislature funds circuit breaker and if it funds it at 75% for example, the district is reimbursed by the state for
75 percent of the remaining cost. With circuit breaker covering $41,000
dollars of the total $100,000 cost to educate the district’s responsibility
for student B is fifty nine thousand dollars. Circuit breaker reimbursements
are made retroactively. This means that the school district absorbs the costs
for one year in anticipation of receiving aid the following year. Circuit breaker funding is always subject to change, so reimbursement may or may not match what was expected. leaving districts with a significant
amount of financial uncertainty. Federal law under the IDEA Act states that children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public
education. Unfortunately, these mandates are largely
underfunded by federal and state sources Every child’s needs are different, but
providing appropriate services for children and paying for them is a major
struggle for every school district. This video is part of a series called
education funding explained, created by support Massachusetts regional schools.
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