For Immediate Release - March 20, 2009

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES $280 MILLION IN FEDERAL RECOVERY FUNDS TO ASSIST SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS

BROCKTON - Friday, March 20, 2009 - As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced $280 million in federal education recovery funds will go to school districts to assist with costs for special education, care and support. The Governor also announced an additional $10 million for preschool special education services.

"Additional funding for special education is an important step toward helping all of our students reach their full potential," said Governor Patrick. "Federal recovery funds are making a difference again."

Funding will be available to across the Commonwealth over the next 27 months. Districts will receive half of the funding by the end of the month - $140 million through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with $5 million . This fall, the remaining $140 million will be allocated to districts with another $5 million for preschool programs.

The announcement comes after Governor Patrick's announcement yesterday that he will commit $168 million in federal education recovery funds to 166 school districts to help them reach so-called foundation spending levels next school year to preserve programs and avoid teacher layoffs at a time when the global economic crisis is forcing communities to increase class sizes, cut positions and make other difficult budget decisions that threaten the quality of education in Massachusetts.

The new special education funding will help school districts boost student achievement through a variety of strategies and activities such as improving direct services to children, releasing technical assistance to schools and districts, advancing the integration of technology into curricula and classroom instruction, developing and implementing transition programs, and focusing on capacity building activities to improve the delivery of services by school districts.

Joined by Education Secretary Paul Reville and Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester at Brockton High School this afternoon, Governor Patrick spoke to parents, teachers and students about his commitment to ensuring school districts receive the necessary support to offer all students a world class education to prepare them for success in the global 21st Century economy. Brockton is set to receive $2.6 million for special education funding plus $100,851 in preschool IDEA funds.

"There are many very talented teachers in schools across the Commonwealth who have dedicated their careers to educating students with special needs," said Secretary Reville. "The announcement of additional IDEA funds will directly support their work and improve the educational opportunities for all students."

"These funds will allow our districts over the next two years to provide students who require special education with the services they need, without cutting into the regular education budget," said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester. "In addition, I am asking our districts to devote at least half of the federal stimulus funds to strategic investments that will provide ongoing benefits and cost savings well into the future."

Education investments are a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

Governor Patrick played a key role in developing the federal recovery law's State Stabilization Fund that is now being used to shore up state education funding as well as to prevent layoffs and cutbacks in other critical areas of government during the recession. Over the next two years, Massachusetts will receive an estimated $1.88 billion to support early education, K-12 education and higher education. For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

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