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Pennsylvania: Districts "struggling" to fund SPED; enrollment is increasing

Feb 3, 2020, Levittown (PA) Now: School Officials From Across State Push For PA To Address Special Education, Charter School Funding State school districts are struggling because of increases in special education and charter school costs, a group of school business professionals and superintendents said at a news conference Friday. The Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) released a report Friday on the financial health of the commonwealth’s 500 school districts. State officials begin the budgeting process for the 2020-21 fiscal year this week. Much of that cost burden has been placed on local taxpayers as partial reimbursement for charter school tuitions ended in 2011 and increased state funding has not kept up with growth, the group said. About $0.76 of new property tax dollars raised during a five-year period between the 2012-13 school year and the 2017-18 school year paid only for charter schools and special education costs, according to information from the two organizations. The increase in special education funding is due to increased enrollment and the need for other services. The state’s special education spending increased by $1.2 billion during that five-year period, Diane Richards of the Governor Mifflin School District in Berks County said…. “Ten years ago, school districts paid $800 million in charter school tuition,” said Brian Pawling, director of business affairs at the Souderton Area School District. “We anticipate that school districts will pay more than $2 billion in charter schools costs this year, a 150 percent increase.”… While some of the increase is due to enrollment, much of it is due to the charter school tuition formula, Pawling said. The formula has not been changed in 22 years.


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