Federal Programs of Southwest REC

The people of the United States support a free public education for every student regardless of income, ability, location, or ethnicity through taxes to the federal government. These taxes not only cover basic operational expenses, but they also provide for programs and grant funding that give every child equal access to education, healthcare, and technology. Here are some of the federal programs that SWREC facilities:

IDEA and Special Education Funding

IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, provides for all students to receive a free, appropriate, public education. Because of this legislation, students with disabilities have access to an appropriate education, healthcare, job training, and other services, in partnership with their families, at no additional cost. Schools receive monies from the federal government to fund special education departments that are equipped with specially trained teachers and equipment to help those students reach for their potential of independence. IDEA recognizes 13 categories of student disability that may receive special education services in schools. The education department of New Mexico recognizes 14. They are:

  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Visual impairment
  • Deaf
  • Hearing impairment
  • Deaf and blind
  • Mental retardation
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Speech/Language impairment
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Specified learning disability
  • Gifted (New Mexico)

To qualify for federally funded services, students with a disability must demonstrate the need for special education and/or related services in order to achieve academic success. New Mexico’s department of education has chosen these four areas of emphasis to better serve students in special education:

  • Focus monitoring
  • Positive behavior supports
  • Programs that prepare for student transition
  • All in a least restrictive environment

Southwest Regional Education Cooperative offers technical assistance and access to additional resources for member districts to help ensure that all students receive a free, appropriate education.

Medicaid Funding for School Based Services

New Mexico schools provide a variety of health-related services to students with disabilities. State Medicaid programs have the authority through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Initiative to reimburse schools for these expenses provided to Medicaid eligible children as part of their IEP’s or IFSP’s. Southwest REC works with school districts that provide services to children by maximizing Medicaid reimbursement for services provided to eligible students. We also assist our districts with regulatory compliance of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Federal Medicaid reimbursements provide the funding for the health related services provided by our member districts to students within the special education system. Some of these services include:

  • School social workers
  • Case management
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech language therapy
  • Personnel development and training for healthcare providers
  • Health-related equipment and materials
  • Mental health/Psychologist services

Federal Funding Through the Consolidated Application

The federal government sets aside funds for several public school initiatives including safety, health, drug/alcohol prevention, and technology. Many of these grants are available to schools that fall within certain demographic categories. To streamline the processes of applying for funds, the federal Consolidated Application was developed. SWREC facilitates member districts' program applications for these funds. For more information about this service, feel free to contact our office.

E-Rate Technology Funding

The E-rate program, administered by the Schools and Libraries Division of the USAC, was set up in 1997 when the FCC implemented a program designed to ensure that all schools and libraries have affordable access to modern telecommunications and information services. Funds are set aside annually to provide telecommunication discounts of 20–90% to schools for phone and Internet service and internal communication systems. Discounts are based upon each applicant’s economic and locale factors. Southwest REC supports public schools and libraries within our member districts (including charter schools) to secure E-rate funding and approved technology providers.

Distance Education

As part of state licensure requirements, teachers must clock a certain number of professional development hours each year to be eligible for PDD and advancement on the three-tier licensure system. However, those hours can be hard to meet when you live in rural areas. The SWREC has partnered with member districts to meet this need. We’ve received two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Utilities Service to install distance education and videoconferencing equipment in member districts! We will also help our districts utilize this equipment, coordinate professional development opportunities with various schools, and facilitate distance education to meet the requirements of the Professional Development Dossier (PDD).