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March 2001


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Kent & Linda <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Moretown Educational <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 8 Mar 2001 01:47:19 -0500
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FW: Special Education OpEdKaren,

I think we need to have a board retreat where we can bring everyone up to speed on current business as well as set up goals for the coming year.  The retreat needs to be soon. What do you think?

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Karen Horn 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 9:04 AM
  Subject: FW: Special Education OpEd

  I don't know if people saw this op ed piece.  Sounds good to me!  Now let's have Congress do something about it. 

  Also, I have been thinking that  it would be good to take a bit of time at our first meeting and give our new members a bit of an orientation to our issues and how the board works.  We should talk about governance; the assessment issue and what is happening; budgets, bills and how the business office works for us; and what new members as well as old members might like to work on.

  What do you think of that idea?  Is the first meeting the 13th? 

  See you soon. 
  Karen B. Horn 
  Director, Legislative and Membership Services 

  -----Original Message----- 
  From: [log in to unmask] 
  [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 8:34 AM 
  To: [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask] 
  Subject: Re: Special Education OpEd 

  Op Ed as promised...Jolinda 
       Fully Fund Special Education 
       By Senator Jim Jeffords 
       I have always subscribed to former House Speaker Tip O'Neil's 
       philosophy that, "all politics is local," and I believe that the best 
       barometer of burning political issues in America is found not in 
       Gallup polls but in conversations with constituents and with local 
       lawmakers.  On February 20th, I made my annual pilgrimage to the 
       Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.  I value this yearly visit as an 
       opportunity to hear what Vermont legislators need from their U.S. 
       Senator, and to share with State Representatives and Senators my ideas 
       about what we hope to accomplish in Washington, D.C. for Vermont.  
       This year was no different.  As I walked the halls of the Statehouse, 
       I exchanged ideas and listened to the concerns of my fellow 
       Vermonters.  The one message conveyed to me throughout the day, from 
       Republicans and Democrats alike, was not about tax cuts or 
       Presidential pardons or defense spending.  Vermonters, regardless of 
       party, are concerned about special education funding. 
       In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142, now known as the 
       Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which rightly guaranteed 
       all children with disabilities a "free and appropriate public 
       But we all know that education itself is not free so the federal 
       government promised it would contribute 40 percent of the costs of 
       special education. As a freshman Congressman, I was proud to help 
       write that legislation along with then Vermont Senator Bob Stafford. 
       Now, over 25 years later, the federal government's promise to fund its 
       share of the cost of special education services has unfortunately gone 
       unfulfilled.  The majority of the funding for special education for 
       8,000 Vermont students and 6.1 million students across the country, 
       currently comes from local school budgets.  The federal government's 
       contribution is just under 15 percent of these costs, leaving the 
       balance of the federal obligation to state and local governments. 
       We committed to 40 percent in 1975.  After 25 years, we have 
       appropriated just under 15 percent.  As I have said many times, it's 
       time to deliver on the missing 25 percent. 
       We have made progress since I became Chairman of the Senate Health and 
       Education Committee, with federal funding for special education 
       increasing by 174 percent.  Vermont's federal allotment has increased 
       from $4.5 million in 1996 to $13.2 million in 2001.  Yet, we are still 
       far short of our goal.  The current total for special education funding 
       is at $7.1 billion.  To fully fund our obligation, we need to commit 
       about $16 billion annually.  
       With countless other federal programs and departments competing for a 
       greater piece of the federal pie, this is no easy task.  It's 
       difficult explaining the complexities of special education funding in 
       a thirty-second sound bit.  But it's the right thing to do and there 
       is no higher claim than special education funding. 
       This year, I intend to introduce legislation that will boost federal 
       special education funding by $2.5 billion each year until 2007, at 
       which time we will have reached our 40 percent commitment.  Last year, 
       I sponsored a similar amendment, which was defeated by only three 
       votes.  With the support of my colleagues and organizations like the 
       National School Boards Association, the National Governor's 
       Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children, I am hopeful 
       that this year we will finally succeed.   We must succeed, for the 
       sake of students, parents, teachers, taxpayers and communities across 
       the nation.  
       I recently read an article regarding the Rumney Memorial School in 
       Middlesex.  On Town Meeting Day, Middlesex voters will decide on a 
       budget that is 7.5 percent higher than last year's budget.  Principal 
       Dan Ryan stated that special education accounted for more than 
       one-third of the overall budget increase.  This story could be told at 
       schools throughout the state.  Principal Ryan, and a majority of 
       Vermont educators, are committed to educating students with special 
       needs.  But they're frustrated by the increasing costs and they need 
       federal help. 
       I've heard the cry for help, at my visit to the Statehouse, and in my 
       travels throughout our great state, and I am sounding that cry in 
       Washington, D.C.  It's time to relieve the financial burden weighing 
       down local school districts.  It is time to keep our promise.  It's 
       time to fully fund special education.