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May 28, 2019, ED SOURCE: California governor and lawmakers at odds over new special education funding Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders agree that the state should significantly increase funding for students with disabilities. But, in one of the biggest disagreements over next year’s state budget, they head into negotiations far apart on how they would spend the new money. Newsom is proposing an additional $696 million in ongoing funding for special education in his budget for next year. Last week, the Assembly Budget Committee rejected outright the new formula that the Department of Finance has proposed for divvying up that additional money. The 21 percent increase for students with special needs would be the largest in decades. But critics — and they are numerous — point out fewer than a quarter of the state’s school districts would qualify for any of the new money and once they get it, they could spend it however they want.... Districts bear bulk of costs… The federal government’s share of special education funding has declined significantly over the past decade and the state’s share stagnated under Gov. Jerry Brown, who made funding of the Local Control Funding Formula, governing K-12 spending that is separate from special education, his top priority. As a result, the state and federal government contribute less than 40 percent of the $13.2 billion in special education spending in California, with school districts paying the rest out of their general budgets. School districts cite pressures from mandated costs of special education and retiree pensions for their difficulties in granting teacher raises, lowering class sizes and expanding programs like summer school and the arts. Overall student enrollment statewide is declining, but the proportion of students with expensive-to-treat disabilities, primarily autism, has exploded from 1 in 50 special education students in 2001-02 to about 1 in 8 in 2016-17. …


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