Memo: Act 173 of 2018
TO: Superintendents, Business Managers, and Special Education Directors
FROM: Heather Bouchey, Acting Secretary, Agency of Education
Amy Fowler, Deputy Secretary of Education
Emily Byrne, Chief Financial Officer
SUBJECT: Act 173 of 2018 – An act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require additional support
DATE: August 2, 2018
This memo is intended to provide a high-level summary of Act 173 to school leadership and a preview of anticipated changes to Vermont’s special education system in the coming months and years.
Purpose of the Law
Act 173 of 2018 proposes to enhance the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to all students who require additional support in Vermont’s schools. This act changes the funding model for special education from a reimbursement model to a census-based model. This new model allows more flexibility in how funds can be used, simplifies administration of funds at both state and local levels, and aligns with policy priorities, including the opportunities identified in the District Management Group (DMG) report. The act reinforces Vermont’s commitment to comply with all provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) with an emphasis on maintaining state and local funding levels. Additionally, the act ensures that all students eligible for special education receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment in accordance with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
In 2016, the General Assembly directed the Agency of Education (AOE) to contract for two studies. The first study evaluated the current special education funding model and recommended a model that provides incentives for desirable practices and stimulates innovation in the delivery of services (2016 Act 148 Sec. 3). The second study looked at current practice and recommended best practices for special education service delivery (2016 Act 148 Sec. 4). The broadened scope of this report considered supports that are provided for all students who struggle. Both studies influenced the development of Act 173.