A few months ago, we reported on a procedural change in the way ISBE will be allocating IDEA grant funds. Beginning in 2019-2020 (FY20), the IDEA funds that previously were subgranted from ISBE to special education cooperatives will now flow directly to the member districts instead (who can then use those funds to pay for the services of their special education cooperatives). Coop joint agreements were to be updated, if necessary, by June 30, 2019.

Since then, ISBE agreed to an allowance for a 6-month extension for cooperatives to fully implement this IDEA flow-through procedural change, and ISBE has worked with the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to allow for a 12-month extension. Thus, per ISBE’s memorandum to superintendents and special education directors on January 11, 2019, cooperatives may request an extension to June 30, 2020 (i.e., FY21), to implement this change.

Last month, ISBE also issued a formal guidance document: “IDEA Allocation Procedural Change” to provide further technical assistance on the IDEA flow-through procedural change. The document addresses a few common questions about amending cooperatives’ joint agreements, TRS issues for employees paid from IDEA grants, potential audit implications, and procurement/contracting implications. Feel free to access the full document via the link above.

Through this entire process, ISBE and the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE) have communicated with the goal of ensuring a smooth rollout of this significant procedural change. In furtherance of that goal, the IAASE is partnering with ISBE to present a series of workshops across the state, titled, “Get in the Flow (Through): IDEA Grant Support for Districts and Cooperatives.” Relevant registration information can be found below on the IAASE’s website. Also, watch for additional updates on this issue on ISBE’s dedicated website (see the “IDEA Allocation Procedural Change” drop-down).

Additionally, feel free to contact Bennett Rodick or Jeff Goelitz with your legal inquiries on this issue.