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Green Bay, WI: New governor calls for $600M increase in SPED funding

Dec 19, 2018, WSAW TV, Wausau, WI: GBAPSD invests $3 million in special education this year, adding staff As Tony Evers is set to take the governor’s seat in January, state education officials are hoping it will be good news for school districts across the state when it comes to more education funding – specifically special education. Earlier this year, as state superintendent, Evers asked the state to increase special education funding by $600 million for the 2019-2021 budget. Currently the funding is at $369 million…. For the Green Bay Area Public School District, that meant increasing their special education funding by $3 million for this school year. At the end of October, the board passed the $274 million budget. Of that, spending for special education is at $49.3 million, up $3.6 million, from last year’s investment of $45.6 million. The district says 67 percent is coming from them because school districts are not getting as much from the state and federal government. … Of the more than 21,000 students in the district, the GBAPSD provides services to 3,367 special education students. [16% of students are SPED.] In creating IDEA, the federal government also promised to reimburse districts at a rate of 40 percent, but that has never happened, leaving districts to make up the difference. … “In the case of Green Bay, they spend about $40 million of local funds on special education and get a $4 million federal grant. The amount of IDEA funding that they get for special education is pretty minuscule,” said Zellmer. Claudia Henrickson, executive director of special education and pupil services at GBAPSD, says much of the districts increase in funding is due to an increase in salaries and adding staff. “We added an additional number of psyches. We added three or four of them that we haven’t had in the past, so that we’re fully staffed and probably at the rate that the psych association says we should be at,” said Henrickson. … Psychologists are highly trained and can work with students on a number of issues from behavioral, emotional or psychological. The district also added more paraprofessionals. In one particular classroom at Red Smith Elementary School, the teacher, Mrs. Utter, has two “paras” helping her teach students with autism. …

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