HARRISBURG PA – If Pennsylvania’s governor and legislature ever decide to pump more money, not less, into school districts’ funding for special education, in the future they may do so based in part of the severity of disabilities the districts are serving, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported Monday (June 18, 2012).
Pennsylvania districts like Pottsgrove, Pottstown and the Spring-Ford Area currently receive the same proportionate funding for special education, regardless of the actual number of students with special needs, The Independent noted. But an already approved state Senate bill that is now being considered in the House, and which has widespread educational community support, proposes to “right-size” that funding in coming years.
The bill would create a commission to establish a new funding formula based on a three-tiered system categorizing the severity of disabilities, with more funding going toward those with more severe disabilities. The formula, starting in fiscal 2013-14, would take into account the specific number of students with disabilities, using state Department of Education data.
Present funding levels wouldn’t change until the formula is applied to additional dollars targeted toward special education. “This legislation will drive the money to the school districts that have the most costly students, no matter what their funding is,” said advocate and Bucks County state Rep. Bernie O’Neill.
The current system assumes that students with disabilities make up about 16 percent of a district’s student population. Under the new formula, the true costs of educating the exact number of students given their specific disabilities would be determined.
- Read a story by reporter Eric Boehm, titled “Special education funding aims to fund actual number of students based on need” and published Monday by The Independent, here.
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