San Diego County Receives 25% of Total Funds, Provides Educational Resources to Military Families and Their Children
East County News Service
August 12, 2010 (Lemon Grove) -- Seeking relief for school districts already scrambling to cope with unexpected cash shortages and budget revisions, Assemblymember Marty Block (D-Lemon Grove) announced that AB 184 has cleared the Senate Education Committee. This legislation provides statutory authority to allow school districts to recover critical special education funding that they received during the last fiscal year to meet the needs of students in their classroom.
“Today’s action is another successful step toward resolving an urgent problem affecting school districts across the state. Our schools and parents depend on this funding to provide quality instruction to some of our neediest students, including those with autism, brain injuries and other severe disabilities,” said Assemblymember Block.
The legislation allows already struggling school districts to hold on to their funding, which they already received and used for special education programs in their classrooms, Block said. "Without this bill and absent a state budget, cash-strapped school districts will have to repay the state and make additional cutbacks in staffing and resources to make up the difference," he noted. "In this economic climate, school districts cannot afford to lose this funding and this legislation ensures that educators are able to meet the needs of these students.”
Each year, $70 million in Special Disabilities Adjustment (SDA) funds are allocated statewide to assist school districts with high concentrations of students with certain costly disabilities including autism, emotional disturbance, visual impairment, hearing impairment, brain trauma and multiple disabilities.
Last June, the California Department of Education (CDE) announced that it did not have the authority to distribute these funds in 2009-10. Furthermore, without emergency legislation CDE would start taking back the SDA funds from school districts that were already received and spent. On July 1, school districts started to see their special education funding taken back retroactively by the state.
The Legislative Budget Conference Committee has agreed to extend SDA funding for 2009-10 and 2010-11. Yet, absent a budget agreement, the funding uncertainty may obligate some districts to layoff employees in order to meet immediate county office solvency requirements. This legislation will allow school districts to retain last year’s SDA allocation, money that has already been used to educate students in special education programs.
AB 184 is sponsored by the San Diego Unified School District. San Diego County is one of the counties in the state with an elevated concentration of special education students that require particularly high-cost education services.
San Diego is one of two home ports designated by the U.S. Navy for exceptional families. “Exceptional families” is a term that applies to families with autistic children that need the kind of medical and educational services that are offered in San Diego. As a result, San Diego Unified and other school districts in the county have extraordinarily high concentrations of autistic students.
Districts in the county receive $17 million or 25% of the total SDA funds allocated each year.
The school districts that will benefit from AB 184 include small, medium and large districts throughout San Diego County. For example:
- Cajon Valley Union SD budgeted the receipt of $1,090,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10;
- Chula Vista ESD budgeted the receipt of $950,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10;
- Grossmont Union HSD budgeted the receipt of $1,250,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10;
- La Mesa-Spring Valley SD budgeted the receipt of $700,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10;
- San Diego USD budgeted the receipt of $9,000,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10; and
- Sweetwater Union HSD budgeted the receipt of $1,400,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10.
Other districts that would benefit from this legislation include:
- Los Angeles USD budgeted the receipt of $22,051,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10;
- Garden Grove USD budgeted the receipt of $6,185,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10; and
- Merced COE budgeted the receipt of $2,402,000 in SDA funds for 2009-10.
The Senate Education Committee approved the bill unanimously. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.