The Exceptional Student Services (ESS) Program Management team distributes Individuals with Disability Act grant monies to eligible Public Education Agencies (PEA) throughout Arizona. The grant application process is facilitated through the grants management system. Grants are approved, amended, and financially monitored through this system. Programmatic monitoring for IDEA grants is facilitated between the program management team and the program support and monitoring specialist in ESS.
The IDEA formula grants is used to assist Arizona in meeting the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. In order to be eligible for funding, PEAs must serve all children with disabilities between the ages of 3 through 21 and be non-profit.
The funding formula consists of three main parts with some supplemental items:
Base - the amount the LEA would have received under section 611 or section 619 if the State had distributed 75% of its funds prior to an allocation formula shift in 1998/2002, for new charters, this amount would lock in the first year a special education count was provided to ESS
Population - Proportion of students enrolled over October 1 by District of Residence and the number of students K-12 attending an elementary or secondary non-profit private school within any school district boundaries
Poverty - Proportion of students enrolled over October 1 by District of Residence and submitted free or reduced information into AzEDS or provided school lunch program information to health & nutrition
Audit Resolution Year One - Repayment as part of the Arizona Department of Education’s repayment to resolve a federal fiscal audit finding from prior years, to be paid over 5 years
Small percentage of Set-Aside - small percentage of set-aside funds put on top of the entitlement formula proportionate to population/poverty, provides flexibility so ESS does not have to recalculate all PEAs’ allocations if entities close
34 CFR §300.133 describes the requirements of the proportionate share calculation.
"...each LEA must spend the following on providing special education and related services (including direct services) to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities:" "For children aged 3 through 21, an amount that is the same proportion of the LEA's total subgrant under section 611(f) of the Act as the number of private school children with disabilities aged 3 through 21 who are enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary schools and secondary schools located in the school district served by the LEA, is to the total number of children with disabilities in its jurisdiction aged 3 through 21."
Sites must be a nonprofit institutional day or residential school (RTC)
ARS 15-101 defines elementary and secondary school grades as:
"Elementary grades" means kindergarten programs and grades one through eight; and
"Secondary grades" means grades nine through twelve
Each LEA must -
After timely and meaningful consultation with representatives of parentally-placed private school children with disabilities (consistent with § 300.134), determine the number of parentally-placed private school children with disabilities attending private schools located in the LEA; and
Ensure that the count is conducted on any date between October 1 and December 1, inclusive, of each year (ADE/ESS will use the October 1 date to determine this value for PEAs)
The count must be used to determine the amount that the LEA must spend on providing special education and related services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities in the next subsequent fiscal year.
Supplement, not Supplant
34 CFR §300.133(d) indicates what role state and local funds play regarding proportionate share expenditures:
State and local funds may supplement and in no case supplant the proportionate amount of Federal funds required to be expended for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities under this part.
34 CFR §300.131(d) provides clarity on expenses not categorized for proportionate share:
The cost of carrying out the child find requirements in this section, including individual evaluations, may not be considered in determining if an LEA has met its obligation.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows, and sometimes requires, public education agencies (PEAs) to use funds provided under Part B of the IDEA for coordinated early intervening services (CEIS). This provision permits PEAs to use Part B funds to develop and provide CEIS for students who are currently not identified as needing special education, unless they are compelled to provide comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (CCEIS).
The purpose of Maintenance of Effort Eligibility testing is to ensure that public education agencies (PEAs) are not supplanting state and local funds with IDEA federal funding sources in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.203(a). Therefore, any PEA that has received federal funds for IDEA must complete Maintenance of Effort (MOE) testing. To accurately test for MOE budgets, the Arizona Department of Education requires PEAs to login to the MOE application which is located in ADEConnect. If you need access to this application, please contact your ADEConnect Entity Administrator within your PEA.
Any PEA that is failing all tests for MOE will be unable to have its IDEA Entitlement grant approved. Once the MOE items have been resolved, then ADE can continue processing the submitted IDEA Entitlement grant.
For a particular cost to be allowed, it must be an excess cost of providing special education and related services. Only allowed costs may be charged to the flow-through or preschool entitlement grants.
When determining whether a cost is an excess cost, ask the following guiding questions:
In the absence of special education needs, would this cost exist?
If the answer is…
No, then the cost is an excess cost and may be eligible.
Yes, then the cost is not an excess cost and is not allowed.
Is this cost also generated by students without disabilities?
If the answer is…
No, then the cost is an excess cost and may be eligible.
Yes, then the cost is not an excess cost and is not allowed.
If it is a child specific service, is the service documented in the student’s IEP?
If the answer is…
Yes, then the cost is an excess cost and may be eligible.
No, then the cost is not an excess cost and is not allowed.
For a particular cost to be allowed, it also must be necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient performance and administration of the grant. A cost is reasonable if it does not exceed what a district would normally incur in the absence of federal funds. Additional guidance about standards for determining costs for federal grants is available from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Grants Guidance (2 CFR, Part 200).
The salaries and wages of any employee charged to a Federal grant, including IDEA, must be supported by some form of time and effort documentation that accurately reflects the work performed and supports the amount claimed against the grant. “Standards for Documentation of Personnel Expenses” are set forth by the Office of Management and Budget (2 CFR § 200.430(i)).
IDEA funding applications are submitted through the Grants Management Enterprise (GME) system. While funding applications are available on March 1st and due May 1st every year, the ESS Program Management team is unable to provide substantial approval until the PEA meets the following requirements.
The funding application is complete.
The budget narratives are allowable under the IDEA and follow object/function codes according to the Uniform System of Financial Records for Arizona School Districts/Charter Schools.
The IDEA Statement of Assurances has been completed in the ESS Portal of ADEConnect.
The PEA has passed the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Eligibility test.
The MOE Eligibility test begins on July 16. If a PEA has submitted an approvable funding application before June 30, and passes MOE Eligibility, the substantial approval date will be locked in for the beginning of the project period of the fiscal year, July 1st. If the PEA fails the MOE Eligibility test, the funding application will be returned and the PEA will be unable to apply for IDEA funds until the MOE case is resolved. Once resolved, the PEA may resubmit the funding application and the substantial approval date will be locked in using the date of the last status change to LEA Authorized Representative.
If a PEA applies for funds after July 1, the substantial approval date will be determined by the date of the last status change to LEA Authorized Representative and all other requirements have been met.
The substantial approval date determines when a PEA is able to obligate funds. The PEA may not request reimbursement for expenditures that occur before the funding application has been substantially approved.
34 CFR Part 76, Subpart H describes how charters can receive IDEA Entitlement funds. The ADE (Arizona Department of Education) requires that a charter notify ESS (Exceptional Student Services) in order to obtain an allocation or an expansion to an allocation in the same year that the respective event occurs. Any entities participating in this process will be worked into the IDEA Basic grant application. (The Charter School Expansion Act Grant is no longer used)
34 CFR 76.788 details the responsibilities a charter has in obtaining a new or expanding allocation.
There are three items required:
Notice – At least 120 days prior to opening or expanding, the charter must notify the ADE in writing a notification of the event and its corresponding date
The charter must provide information so that the ADE can reasonably estimate the amount of funds any charter is eligible for under IDEA Entitlement grants
Once the charter has opened or expanded, it must provide actual enrollment or eligibility data to the ADE aligned to October 1 metrics (ESS Census, October 1 Enrollment & Poverty)
If a charter opens or expands after October 1, ESS will utilize an equivalent means with a different date that represents actual enrollment and eligibility data
The ADE is not required to provide funds to a new or expanding charter until the charter provides reasonable enrollment or eligibility data
Compliance – The new charter will comply with all federal requirements of the IDEA
Upon receiving adequate notification, the ADE will provide the charter with timely communication regarding its eligibility and requirements for the IDEA Entitlement grants. If there is a failure to provide the ADE with adequate notice (Notice and Information #1), the ADE has no obligation to generate a timely allocation within five months of the opening or expansion.
ADE will reserve funds for entities that provide all of the required information before the IDEA Entitlement allocations are finished for an upcoming year. After October 1, ADE will process and generate actual enrollment and eligibility numbers to determine the allocation.
When adequate notice has been provided along with enrollment/eligibility metrics, allocations will be generated and awarded with the following timelines. If the charter opens or expands on the following dates:
On or before November 1 – charter will receive a proportionate amount of funds worked into the current year’s overall allocation
After November 1 and before February 1 – charter will receive a pro rata amount of an allocation for the amount of the academic year the charter is under the covered program
On or after February 1 – charter will receive an allocation from the following year’s SEA allocation
34 CFR 76.787 defines significant expansion of enrollment
“a substantial increase in the number of students attending a charter school due to a significant event that is unlikely to occur on a regular basis, such as the addition of one or more grades or educational programs in major curriculum areas. The term also includes any other expansion of enrollment that the SEA determines to be significant.”
Non-regulatory guidance from the CSEA (Charter School Expansion Act) allows further flexibility in how states determine significant expansion for federal programs
“…the final regulations give States unfettered discretion to determine any expansion of enrollment to be significant within the meaning of the final regulations, the State could, in its discretion, make a determination that a charter school has undergone a significant expansion of enrollment based on an increase in the number of children with disabilities attending the charter school.”
For purposes of the IDEA Entitlement grants, the ADE has defined significant expansion to be dependent upon all of the following metrics:
A significant event that is unlikely to occur on a regular basis;
Addition of one or more grades
Addition of a new site under the same Charter LEA (PEA)
Addition of a major educational program that services students with disabilities
Other unique events (requires supporting documentation)
Increase in enrollment of at least 30% from the prior year’s October 1 enrollment (or static calendar date if Oct 1 is not applicable); and
Increase in SPED students of at least 30% counted on the ESS Census child count (or similar calendar date if Oct 1 is not applicable)
High-Cost Child and Extraordinary Special Education Needs Applications
Review the ESS Claims webinar video and materials in the training section below.
Fiscal Year 2024 High-Cost Child (HCC) claims will be open in August 2023.
As ESS reviews high-cost child applications, we will approach applications with the following mindset.
First, ESS will limit how much can be claimed for a particular student(s) or an entity to ensure the funds address high-cost students equitably across the state. The primary focus of these funds is to reimburse direct/charter services for eligible students and remove some or all the burden from as many PEAs as possible this first year. Second, we will reserve approval timelines to ensure the funds do not deplete within the first 30 days of the deployment. This is to provide time for PEAs to get into the application and submit items but not drain the funds immediately, allowing PEAs to access the funds for the initial launch. Third, ESS will focus with more severity on unexpected expenditures than on repeating funds. Tuition for returning private school students would not generally meet the criterion as an unexpected burden that the state would have to relieve from a PEA. ESS will adjust the criteria as the needs of students and the PEAs change throughout the state.
PEAs are eligible to request up to $125,000 through ESEN funds in fiscal year 2024. Visit the ESEN page for more information.
ESEN Round for Funding Approval
September 30, 2023
November 30, 2023
February 29, 2024
May 31, 2024
FY24 Webinar Series
Join the ESS Program Management team at the FY2024 webinar series. Webinars will take place via Zoom from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month (unless indicated otherwise). Click on the webinar title to register for the webinar. Please register 72 hours in advance if you require ADA Accommodations for the virtual webinar event.
The Fiscal Year 2025 IDEA Part B funding applications open in March. Join the ESS Program Management team for helpful tips and tricks on how to apply for the Section 611 and Section 619 funds. This webinar is targeted for special education administrators, business managers, and grant writers.
The IDEA requires every public education agency to maintain a level of fiscal support from state and local funds. The IDEA MOE Compliance and Eligibility tests are conducted twice a year. This session will showcase the data used for the MOE calculations and how PEAs can provide evidence of reducing state and local spending requirements. Special education administrators and business managers are encouraged to attend.
Special Education Funding: How, When, and What Order to Spend? - April 9, 2024
How does a SPED Director plan a budget? Which funding source is better suited for a fixed versus a variable cost? Come to this session to learn how state and federal fund are intertwined in Arizona.