top of page

ARIZONA: Exploding SPED cost "growing strain" on ed spending:

Jan 21, 2020, Bill to address Arizona special education funding for first time in nearly 20 years Federally mandated special education services are underfunded. With more students having more severe disabilities, there is a growing strain on general classroom spending in Arizona's public schools. Now, Arizona lawmakers are considering a bill that would help public schools manage the rising cost of special education services. “The time is now,” said Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen, who is introducing a bill that would increase funding for about 100,000 special education students statewide. … It’s been about 20 years since special education funding has been addressed. In that time, Dr. Kym Marshall, Director of Student Services for Chandler Unified School District says the special education population has exploded and so have the needs. “It’s not just about reading writing and math, it’s more about mental health, social emotional,” said Marshall. “When you include the special designed instruction from the special ed teacher, the speech pathologist, occupational therapist, possible paraprofessional support, right, it all adds up and the district has to fund it. It is a federal mandate so if the student needs it then we have to provide it.” That means dipping into the school’s general fund because, right now, students who fall into one of the six categories only get $12 more than any typically performing student. These are the following six categories of special education: --OHI – Other Health Impaired --DD – Developmentally Delayed --ED – Emotional Disabilities --MIID – Mild Intellectual Disabilities --SLI – Speech and Language Impairments --SLD – Specific Learning Disabilities “We took 18 students, varying levels of disabilities and supports and services and looked at what that cost the district and just with those 18 students we were in the red just over 327,000 dollars,” said Marshall. The Chandler Unified School District has more than 5,300 special education students.“We normally grow about 100 students a year and this past year October 1, 2018 to October 1, 2019 we saw an increase of 225 students already," Marshall added. … What we do know is that the population keeps growing without any additional funding. Between the 2007 to 20017 school years, the number of Arizona students diagnosed with autism more than doubled and from 2008 to 2014, the rate of newborns exposed to narcotics shot-up an alarming 218%. … “There are just too many children who fall into these classifications that haven’t been true in the past,” said Sen. Allen. “I don’t know all the reasons and I guess it doesn’t matter for this argument. We have the issue now let’s try to help these kids.” … “Sometimes they are not able to stay in the public school setting they need extreme and intensive supports in order to give them the skills to come back,” said Marshall. This would help public schools seek reimbursement for those placements which can run more than $50,000 or more per student…. Senate Bill 1060 will be discussed in the Senate Education Committee January 21st. Even if this bill passes, Arizona is struggling with a teacher shortage that's even more dire for special education, because those positions remain some of the toughest to recruit and retain. “Some reasons why they leave is the aggressive behaviors they are seeing, the increased paperwork and the litigiousness of being a special education teacher,” said Marshall….


bottom of page