Citywide Exceptional Needs Fund (CENF)

Citywide Exceptional Needs Fund (CENF)


Schools: Apply Now!


Please email if you have any questions or encounter technical difficulties.

CENF is a special purpose fund created to help all public schools in New Orleans meet the needs of their students with IEPs, especially those who are not adequately funded through the state’s High Cost Services allocation. The primary goal in creating this fund is to ensure that all public schools in New Orleans receive sufficient funding to cover the costs associated with serving students with significant disabilities.


  • CENF applications are due on or before Monday, February 11, 2019.



In order for a student to qualify for funds, the following eligibility requirements must be met:

  • The student lives in New Orleans and is enrolled in a public school
  • The cost to educate and provide services to the student exceeds $23,564 and causes a negative financial impact on the budget of the school
  • All services and supports listed in the application are included in the student’s IEP, health plan, and/or behavior plan
  • The school applied first to the state High Cost Services (HCS) allocation if the student met the eligibility requirements


The Citywide Exceptional Needs Fund is not intended to replace any existing state, federal or local special education funds. These funds are student-specific and cannot be used to support other students. Initial per pupil allocations are capped at $100,000 annually. If additional funds remain after meeting all student needs, allocations above the student cap may be considered.

Eligible costs and ineligible costs include, but may not be limited to:

Eligible Not Eligible
•   One-to-one nursing services or paraprofessional support

•   Special transportation and/or special transportation aide

•   Related services, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, etc.

•   Specialized equipment or training such as wheelchairs, assistive technology, or specialized equipment

•   Basic costs of the classroom, such as supplies, and routine transportation

•   Legal fees, court costs or other costs associated with a cause of action brought on behalf of a student with a disability to ensure a FAPE

•   Costs that otherwise would be reimbursed as medical assistance for a child with a disability under the State Medicaid program



Schools/LEAs should submit a full Citywide Exceptional Needs Fund application for each eligible student as well as rollover applications for the state’s High Cost Services allocation.


Applications to the CENF grant should be completed if the following criteria are met under each application type:  ​


  1. New CENF Application
  • Services did not reach the HCS threshold and therefore, was not eligible for HCS funds, and,
  • Services cost between $23,564 and $35,346 (2-3x MFP),OR
  1. HCS Round One Rollover
  • Student was enrolled for the 2017-18 schoolyear, prior to July 1, 2018., and
  • Services cost at least $35,346​, and
  • AHCS application was completed for this student by the round one deadline, OR,
  1. HCS Round Two Rollover
  • Student enrolled after July 1, 2018, or
  • There is a new and significantly revised IEP for 2018-19, and,
  • Services cost at least $35, 346​, and,
  • AHCS application will be completed for this student during round two.
  • Note: HCS rollover applicationsmay be submitted to fill the gap for students whose HCS application was approved but only partially funded by HCS.
    • Because the State capped the amount schools/LEAs could request for a specific service on HCS applications, you are asked to enter the total cost for any specific service a student receives. This number will then be reduced by the amount received from HCS so that the CENF gap can be determined.


For each student for which they are applying, schools/LEAs must include a reasonable cost estimate for the materials, services, supports, and/or personnel. The total cost per student must be greater than $23,564 for a full school year. Persons submitting and reviewing applications must take appropriate actions to ensure the confidentiality of any and all personally identifiable data, information, and records collected or submitted throughout the process.

Standardized Costs

To ease in the application and review process, some common costs have been standardized as follows:

Service Standardized Cost
APE $75/hour
OT/PT/ST/Counselor/Social Worker $80/hour
Center for Resilience (formerly NOTDP)/ReNEW Therapeutic Programs Rates as determined by the organization
SPED Salary $60,000 (including benefits)
Para Salary $38,000 (including benefits)
Bus/Van Transportation $65,000


Depending on the type of service the student receives, the school/LEA will be prompted to enter either the number of hours per week served (as reflected in the student’s IEP), along with the number of weeks per year served, or the number of students sharing the service provided. The application will then automatically calculate costs. For example, if a student receives 3 hours of PT per week for 30 weeks, the application will automatically calculate the PT costs for that student to be $7,200. As an additional example, if a bus/van is shared between 15 students, the application will automatically calculate the bus/van transportation cost for a single student to be $4,333.

Schools/LEAs will be given an opportunity in the application portal to submit detailed explanations and documentation for reviewer consideration if a service cost significantly deviates from the standardized costs outline above. There will also be an opportunity to submit costs and documentation for those services that are not standardized above.  For costs that are not standardized, the application should include an itemized list of the materials, services, and personnel necessary to provide a free appropriate education to the student. Please be as specific and descriptive as possible.

The total amount required to serve the student must be at least $23,564.

Costs for related service providers should be estimated based on the amount of service hours on the student’s IEP. (E.g. Student receives occupational therapy for 30 minutes twice a week. Cost for occupational therapy for the student is estimated to be $200 per week or $7,500 for the school year.)

Costs for materials and services should be prorated according to the specific use of the student. (E.g. Three students share assistive technology throughout the school day. Cost of assistive technology should be divided by three to determine cost per student. If the student has his/her own assistive technology device that is not shared by other students, the total cost can be attributed to the student.)

Basic costs of the classroom, such as supplies and routine transportation, may be included in the application but are not eligible for reimbursement.

Costs that otherwise would be reimbursed as medical assistance for a child with a disability under the State Medicaid program or for which the school is already receiving other revenues may be included in the application but are not eligible for reimbursement. We understand that it can be difficult to predict Medicaid reimbursement amounts. Please enter a best estimate in the final column below as appropriate. For additional information on estimating Medicaid reimbursements, click here.


For the purpose of meeting eligibility criteria, all materials, services, supports, and personnel listed in the application must be supported by the following documentation:

  • Redacted Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Redacted SER jurisdictionpage
  • Egms checklist (HCS rollover applications only)
  • If needed as supporting documentation, Behavior Intervention Plan and/or Individualized Health Plan


For OPSB LEA schools requiring assistance in completing your application, the Assistant Director assigned to your school is available to help.

OPSB has prepared an Exceptional Needs Fund Application Data spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet includes an Instructions tab, Expenses tab, and a Sample Application tab.  Please use this spreadsheet to collect data needed for the Citywide Exceptional Needs Fund for Students with Disabilities (CENF) and return your completed spreadsheet to no later than January 11, 2019. 


If you have questions and concerns, please contact Shayla Guidry Hilaire ( as soon as possible.

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