The Moretown Dilemma or Vermont’s Dilemma?
What is "The Moretown Dilemma"? To summarize, it is projected increasing enrollment in special education will increase Moretown’s annual projected ADM costs to 175% of statewide norms. Under ACT 60 the special education reimbursement formulae will only provide the same percentage support that will be received by a district with half the per ADM burden. This is because none of the projected annual costs for serving the individual seven Down syndrome children and one severely multihandicapped child expected in the Moretown school exceed $50,000 and therefore no costs are eligible for the extraordinary reimbursement clause, the only one which recognizes exceptional costs.
If relief cannot be found, monies will have to be taken out of the regular education budget. This will not only cause a reduction in regular educational programming but it is unlikely that funds will be made available to support initiatives required by ACT 60 for quality improvements and meeting assessment standards. In a nutshell without additional reimbursement for Moretown’s unusual special education costs, the quality improvements for the majority will be jeopardized.
A study labeled "The Moretown Dilemma" was presented to members of the Vermont legislature. In early March a group, which included Representative Alan Weiss, Senator Jeb Spaulding, Senator Ann Cummings, Senator William Doyle, members of the Moretown School Board, Edith Miller (VSBA Executive Director), Bill Reedy (Attorney State Board of Education) and others met to discuss the study.
Many different issues and ideas were discussed. It was clear that Moretown’s dilemma is a statewide dilemma and long-term solutions must be sought by the state legislature. One issue brought up was the lack of federal funding for federally mandated special education programs. In 1976 Congress passed the Education for the Handicapped Act (PL 94-142),
which mandated access to special education and related services a federal entitlement for students with disabilities (this act has been amended a number of times, including extending the entitlement to children aged 3-5 and is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The original intention of this Act was for the federal government to fund 40% of the cost of these programs. To date the federal government has only funded a maximum of 12% and a current funding of 7%. If the federal government would fund the full 40%, the cost burden on the state and local governments would be greatly reduced.
In light of this, Senator Bill Doyle recommended that all Vermont School Board Directors sign a petition (and maybe neighboring states will do the same after hearing about Vermont’s petition) requesting the federal government to fully fund the federally mandated special education programs as set forth. While our representatives in Montpelier look for a long term solution to funding abnormal special education situations like Moretown, school board directors in Vermont need to contact VSBA about the above mentioned petition.
If anyone is interested in a copy of the "Moretown Dilemma" study, please contact the Moretown School Board of Directors.
Proposed Petition Wording
Whereas in 1976 the federal legislature upon enacting PL94-142,
education for the handicapped act, proposed that federal funds would
cover 40% of the program costs, and whereas federal funding over the
past 20 years has never exceeded 12% of these costs and is currently
only at 7%, therefore we the undersigned request that federal
legislators first meet their obligations to fully fund this important
but costly program before they fund any new initiatives in the education