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Massachusetts: 20-30% of school budgets going to SPED;no end in sight

Aug 5, 2018, N. Andover (MA) Eagle—Tribune: Our View: Special education funding problem persists …Three years ago, slightly more than $1 of every $5 spent in public schools in Massachusetts went toward special education. The ratio has gradually increased through the years, according to a comparison drawn up by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. And that's just the state’s average; in some districts, the expense is considerably more. Take North Andover, which spent more than $13.7 million on special education in fiscal 2015, according to the state’s comparison. That figure represented more than 27 percent of the school district’s operating budget. The same year, Andover was spending $22.9 million on special education — also about 27 percent of its overall budget. The $18 million that Salem put toward special education in 2014-15 represented a little more than one-quarter of its school district's operating budget. In 2015, Amesbury schools’ expenses were a whopping 29 percent of the overall operating budget. The juggernaut of special education costs is not exactly new, but its size and growth underscore the increasing need for the state to address it. The gradual spread of these costs also explains the disappointment that passed like waves through school departments and town halls across Massachusetts last week when the Legislature gaveled out of formal session without a plan to retool the state’s local education funding formula…. But, since lawmakers have gone home to campaign for re-election, the problem of special education costs persists. Addressing it should remain near the top of lawmakers' agenda through the informal sessions for the rest of this year — and, of course, when a new session starts in January. …


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