Earlier this year, Sherry Zubeck vowed to visit all 22 school districts in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. She was on a crusade.
Zubeck, early childhood and special education services director for Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, wanted to talk about kids with disabilities — students and preschoolers who need physical or speech therapy or similar services. The services are expensive; often a family’s insurance company picks up the tab, but if the family is eligible for Medical Assistance — Medicaid — government money pays the bill.
The problem, Zubeck told school officials, is that there’s been a lot less money to go around.
Due to new federal regulations and snafus at the state level, as much as $28 million is owed to school districts, private and charter schools and intermediate units. Some local school districts are out six-figure sums; the IU itself is out nearly $1 million over the past few years.