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A take on special ed funding

by Dan Burns on January 24, 2018

From a good Minnesota education blog.


Over the last 15 plus years, the deficit in special education funding to public school districts has been on the rise. Part of the increase may be attributable to inflation, but a significant part of the rising deficit must be attributed to the rising costs of compliance with the federal and state special education mandates and shortfalls in the appropriations to cover those costs.
Services to special education students, mandated by federal law, are paid for by a combination of federal special education funds (funneled through the State Department of Education) and state special education funds. Total funding to state school districts is determined by the state budget. The state must, under the constitution, find a way to provide adequate funding for these mandatory services, but in each budget year, the state fails to do that. The formula for funding provided to local district is calculated according to a complex, somewhat arcane, set of formulas. Those formulas intentionally are built to create a deficit in reimbursement, and that deficit is rising. (In addition, students receiving special education are entitled to receive regular education services, just like all other students.) The education provided to a hypothetical special education student in a teacher’s classroom includes (1) teaching and other services funded by the regular education formula, and (2) extra special education services funded by state and federal special education funds.
The Figure below displays the total mandated special education expenses for all school districts in Minnesota in hundreds of millions of dollars (blue line) and the total combined state and federal funds provided to meet those expenses (red line). The red line is beneath the blue, because the mandated spending is hundreds of millions of dollars less than the funds provided. The total deficit in funding is currently running at $1.4 billion per biennium and it is scheduled to rise.
(JvonKorff on Education)

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