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California: Governor doesn't provide for rising SPED costs in budget

June 18, 2018, Fresno Bee: Advocates: California's school budget still leaves rising special education costs to districts California’s record-high $78 billion school budget still leaves districts to pay for the bulk of special education costs, advocates say — and those costs have been on the rise for years. A $200 million provision to equalize special education funding approved by both the state Senate and Assembly was not part of the final budget deal that landed on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk Friday. … The budget proposal does include $100 million to increase and retain special education teachers, as well as $10 million more toward Special Education Local Plan Areas. And while the budget would also provide $167 million for more inclusive early education, Clovis Unified Legislative Analyst Steve Ward said that it misses how much extra manpower is needed to provide an adequate environment for students with special needs. “The amount of money the state preschool provides is nowhere near enough to include special education students,” Ward said. “That’s not solving the problem.” Without enough financing from the state or federal levels, finding money to pay for the rising costs of special education has increasingly fallen to individual districts, according to Ward. “In the past, a lot of these costs — therapies and services — fell to the county,” Ward said. “More and more, they’re our responsibility.”… There also is an increased need, Ward said, as special needs in children are diagnosed at a higher rate. A federal study found a 23 percent increase in autism diagnoses from 2008 to 2012. A coalition of school districts in support of the bill found that statewide funding for special education had fallen from 41 percent in the 2005-06 school year to 29 percent in the 2015-16 school year. Contributions at the local level have risen from 48 percent to 62 percent in that time, according to the report. Ward said advocates for the bill were disappointed that Gov. Brown did not include the $200 million funding allocation in the final budget…. "Federal grants have never come close to this commitment," Ward said. "For all of California, the Federal grant covers only 9% of the costs, the state 27%, and school districts pay the remaining 64% of the costs."…

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