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Ed Week: Across the country special education costing more as numbers soar

Jan 22, 2020, Education Week: School Districts Struggle With Special Education Costs The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires the federal government to help cover the excess costs of meeting students' individual education needs, has bedeviled school systems for decades…. …A report issued in August by the Congressional Research Service found that federal grants cover less than 15 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure for special education students; that's less than half of the 40 percent lawmakers envisioned when the law was enacted…. In Connecticut, the Waterbury Republican-American reports that the 4,000-student Torrington school system ordered a districtwide budget freeze because of an unexpected increase in special education enrollment. In Michigan, reports that Flint residents are demanding more special education funding. Special education costs in the 3,800-student district have spiked as the city deals with the fallout from its crisis with lead in the drinking water. In August, we wrote about how "at least 1 in 5 students in Flint's public schools are eligible for special education—and the school system is buckling under the weight of federal requirements and costs for providing programs and services." In Wisconsin, The Press Times reports that the Green Bay schools plan to cap open enrollment for special education students because of concerns about extra costs the district could incur. While the 20,000-student school system could be shutting its doors to more outside special education enrollment, administrators there will accept all open enrollment applications for general education students. Wisconsin state law allows districts to make separate decisions on open enrollment for special education and general education students based on a state formula that factors in staffing and capacity.


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