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Bentwood, CA: "Increases in SPED costs continue to have huge impact on school districts"

Dec 20, 2018, Brentwood (CA) Press: Brentwood Union School District calls families to urge legislators to properly fund education In a recent letter sent home to families in the Brentwood Union School District (BUSD), officials called upon parents to take action with words. The message outlined a growing and systemic funding problem for education within California and urged parents to write to legislators, calling on them to meet goals added to the state constitution with the passing of Proposition 98 in 1988. “In the ’80s, Prop. 98 was passed – a funding formula for how much education gets,” BUSD Superintendent Dr. Dana Eaton said. “It was supposed to make sure education never dropped below a certain funding level, even when the state was in trouble. But instead of a floor, it’s become the ceiling of funding. It allows legislators to say, ‘Here’s the minimum funding we need for education and now we’ve fully funded education, let’s move on.’”… “While California, as a state, has been underfunding education for decades, it is easy to believe that the issue has improved because the economy has improved,” said Terry Koehne, Contra Costa County office of Education chief communications officer. “The fact is California schools are still far behind the national average in per-pupil spending, and things like the growing pension debt obligation and increases in special-education costs continue to have a huge impact on school district budgets. Districts are already in cost-cutting mode, and if the next recession were to hit anytime soon, school districts throughout California would be facing some very difficult decisions.” Eaton expanded on those rising special-education needs and pension costs along with the specific revenue challenges faced by Brentwood, whose community is neither wealthy enough to fund education at a level such as Walnut Creek or Orinda nor severely steeped in poverty, which would factor into the funding level received by the state. … “In passing the Individuals With Disabilities Act in 1972, the federal government said we know (special education) is going to cost more, so we’re going to provide 40 percent of the cost, but they’ve never provided more than 16 percent, and the state hasn’t increased our special-education budget even though we’re seeing a rise in need,” Eaton said. “The government needs to recognize that these are our most at-risk students and provide the funding to support them….

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