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Arizona: "A growing number of students with more severe disabilities"; SPED exceeds $1B

Nov 4, 2017, Eastern Arizona Courier: Special education funding gap squeezes Arizona classrooms http://www.eacourier.com/copper_era/news/special-education-funding-gap-squeezes-arizona-classrooms/article_23b5cd08-c052-11e7-94a3-579131290f7d.html Underfunding of federally mandated special education services for public school students, coupled with a growing number of students with more severe disabilities, is straining general classroom spending in Arizona’s public schools. … Statewide, special education expenditures exceed $1 billion and have increased 8 percent since 2013, Aportela said. … Not adequately funding special education forces districts to make cuts to general education programs, said Dr. Chuck Essigs, a former special education teacher who is director of governmental relations for Arizona Association of School Business Officials. “Districts have no choice but to fund special education programs since they are mandated by state and federal law; therefore, the only place that districts can make cuts are in non-special education programs,” Essigs said. That impacts classroom spending because “you have to come up with money that isn’t there to pay for therapists, or bus aides or school bus service for special education students,” Aportela said. …. Over the past four years, the number of students with mild disabilities has decreased slightly from 9.78 percent to 9.64 percent, while the number of students with more severe disabilities has increased from 1.75 percent to 1.86 percent, with the largest increases in students with autism and visual impairments, Aportela said....