Webster Groves School District
Legislative Advocacy Committee
Friday, October 15, 2010
1. Introductions were made.
2. The group reviewed the norms developed during the September meeting. These were accepted by the group.
3. Diane Moore, CFO and Asst. Supt., shared information on the Hancock Amendment and how WGSD is funded. The committee had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the information shared. A copy of the presentation can be found in the LAC Documents.
4. Sarah then shared information regarding DESE’s request for a waiver for Early Childhood Special Education. After clarifying questions were answered the committee discussed the issue in small groups identifying the pluses, minuses, and other comments regarding this issue. (See the list on the next page.) The group then discussed what action if any the committee wanted to take regarding this issue. It was decided that Sarah Riss would compose a letter reflecting the discussion of the committee and send this letter to the Commissioner of Education. Both Senator Schmitt and Representative Kirkton made a commitment to inform Sarah if they felt any additional action was needed by the committee. At this point, only the letter to the commissioner will be sent. It appears that this issue may not even make it to the legislature and will be solved within DESE.
5. An update on the Turner Case will be provided at the next meeting.
6. Next Meeting: Friday, November 19, 2010 – The focus will be on initial development of our legislative platform and discussion of open enrollment.
+ - other
Cost containment for state
Slow or curb abuse in system
Cost would shift from state to local
No funding for special education
Kids slip through the cracks
Less consistency between districts
Long term impact on kids and district
Impact on all children including those without disabilities
Delay of services significant to children
Social impact long term
Redirect funding on local level
Gap in services
Need guidelines to avoid overspending
Narrow focus of how funding is used
Early Childhood Special Education Discussion
October 15, 2010
October 21, 2010
Dr. Chris Nicastro
Commissioner of Education
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
PO Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Dear Commissioner Nicastro:
The Webster Groves School District Legislative Advocacy Committee met recently to discuss the proposal to obtain a waiver for mandatory Early Childhood Special Education Services. We are writing this letter to register our opposition to a proposal that the state withdraw from the 619 early childhood special education program under IDEA for three and four year olds. The proposal would make this program voluntary and would require that local school districts subsidize reduced funding from the state or even worse, possibly discontinue services.
We understand the state's need to contain costs and agree that the current program could be changed to make it more effective and efficient. But what has been proposed goes too far and could drastically affect young children across Missouri. We ask that the state consider the long-term social and educational impact of what is proposed.
Most school districts are looking at financial pictures that aren't much different from the state's. Making early childhood special education voluntary and shifting the burden of payment to the districts will almost certainly end the program in many school systems. They simply won't have the money. Children who could be helped will slip through the cracks. This will affect those pupils and their districts for years to come. It will ensure that the delivery of services to children in need is delayed until they reach school age, again affecting their ability to progress as well as the impact on district resources for the long term. This will affect all children and teachers in systems that cannot provide early childhood special education. Districts with greater resources will be able to provide while poorer ones won't, creating disparities throughout Missouri. There will be no consistency between districts and gaps in services will be common.
In short, this proposal reduces services in a critical area at a time in a child's development when it is needed most. We encourage the state to do everything it can to retain it. We suggest that the state consider streamlining the program
and auditing it to make sure that the money is spent in the most effective way possible. We would also support narrowing the focus of how the money can be used, in order to retain maximum benefits for three and four year olds who need special education. It is our understanding that you are working with leadership organizations throughout the state to review the proposal and develop more positive alternatives. We applaud you for doing this and encourage this action.
In the long run, we think you would agree that expenditures for these young students pay big dividends for all. Thank you for your consideration.
Sarah Booth Riss, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Cc WGSD Legislative Advocacy Committee
WGSD Board of Education
Marty Baker, Director of Early Years
Cathy Dutcher, Director of Special Education