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Moorpark, CA: Enrollment declining, SPED numbers increasing; funding is decreasing

May 25, 2018, Moorpark (CA) Acorn: School officials say special ed growing, but funding lagging An increase in special-education students has presented a challenge for Moorpark Unified School District and for Ventura County’s 19 other districts. “Although most districts in this county have declining enrollment, most districts in this county have increased enrollment in special education,” Diane Weis, director of special education, said. But despite the increasing numbers, school leaders say, the amount of state funding for those students is decreasing. … Special-education students include those who need additional help with learning or those who have psychological disabilities, emotional issues or speech, hearing, visual or other health impairments. The numbers During the 2016-17 school year, the district spent about $11 million of its nearly $62-million budget on special education, including teachers’ salaries and individualized services. … “Special education in general is becoming a statewide, if not nationwide, challenge. We certainly see it here in our county,” the superintendent said. “This challenge is mostly due to a lack of funding. We do not receive adequate state or federal funding for special education.” In order for a student to become eligible for special education, they must have a processing delay or at least one of 13 different conditions, such as autism or hearing problems. This year, 944 students, or about 15 percent, of MUSD’s 6,300-member student body are receiving services from special education staff. The compares to 11 percent of the student body in 2002, when the district served about 868 special-education students in a student population of 7,800. Why the rise?... She pointed to a stat showing the district had about 30 students diagnosed as autistic in 2002. This year there are 103. Weis also said experts are seeing more kids with mental health issues. Again, she wasn’t certain whether more youngsters in today’s classrooms do have more mental health problems or whether those making the diagnoses are getting better at recognizing issues…. What’s more, Weis said, the district is also seeing a rise in the number of students with the “other health-impaired” designation, or disabilities that range from attention difficulties to auditory problems. In 2002, 54 students were so designated. Last year 118 were. …

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