In Virginia, most school districts have been able to weather the special education funding cuts so far by not replacing teachers who leave, according to John Eisenberg, assistant superintendent for special education and student services. Many school systems have also reduced or eliminated staff development, which is critical in special education.

“There’s constant change in the field in terms of making sure folks are up to speed and are using research-based practices for students,” Eisenberg said. “As we have learned more and more about things like autism, the field has changed. Getting teachers trained in the most recent research-based practices is critical.”

Virginia schools have also reported big cuts in budgets for materials and technologies to support students with disabilities, which can include electronic devices to help nonverbal students communicate, technology to help students who are hearing-impaired and computers to enlarge text, for example.

In Florida, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties found the money to keep their special education programming intact. But nearby Broward County this year eliminated five of 11 behavior specialists, 10 program specialists and an assistive technology position, according to Mark Halpert, director of the Florida Advocacy Coalition for Learning Disabilities.

Halpert worries about the damage a second year of sequestration could inflict.

“These kids are smart – they learn differently, have challenges and can be enormously successful,” Halpert said. “We owe it as a society to help them succeed.”

———

Estimated reductions in dollars in federal funding to the states in fiscal year 2013 for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B Grants, following 5 percent sequestration cuts.

US
$578,892,762

AL
8,915,770

AK
1,919,022

AZ
10,040,553

AR
5,633,069

CA
62,855,318

CO
8,108,108

CT
6,314,489

DE
1,839,638

FL
31,092,117

GA
17,458,448

HI
2,035,593

ID
2,865,332

IL
24,657,563

IN
12,376,969

IA
5,770,827

KS
5,251,785

KY
7,688,909

LA
9,752,289

ME
2,586,535

MD
9,719,363

MA
13,418,282

MI
20,279,289

MN
9,199,308

MS
6,123,987

MO
10,762,593

MT
1,919,022

NE
3,529,607

NV
3,775,945

NH
2,247,666

NJ
17,085,902

NM
4,354,823

NY
36,378,359

NC
16,776,161

ND
1,493,764

OH
22,008,413

OK
7,300,677

OR
6,372,225

PA
21,381,079

RI
2,067,098

SC
8,583,510

SD
1,779,462

TN
11,706,600

TX
51,026,919

UT
5,672,990

VT
1,440,274

VA
13,878,260

WA
11,251,352

WV
3,589,871

WI
10,097,151

WY
1,510,990

DC
924,976
Source: U.S. Department of Education

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