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Pennsylvania: SKYROCKETING SPED COSTS; "SPED costs more than doubled"

Oct 15, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Study finds costs for special education outpacing state education aid http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2018/10/14/Study-finds-costs-for-special-education-outpacing-state-education-aid/stories/201810140021 Increases in special-education costs in Pennsylvania are far outpacing increases in the state's contributions to those expenses, leaving local school districts to pick up bigger shares of the tabs, according to a recent report. While state aid for special education increased by $71 million between 2008 and 2016, district special-education costs grew by $1.54 billion, according to the report that was released Oct. 9 by the Education Law Center and PA Schools Work. … “Despite recent state investments, the state's special education funding is becoming more inadequate and inequitable,” said Reynelle Brown Staley, policy attorney for the law center. “There is simply not enough money coming from the state in either the basic-education or special-education line items.” The suit — brought in part by the law center — alleges that the system is inadequate and discriminates against children in poorer communities that cannot keep up with rising costs. Special-education costs have jumped significantly in the region’s school districts in the last several years, outpacing increases in state aid. … Special-education funding has also been a challenge in New Jersey. School districts there recently reported that it constituted 22 percent of their budgets, up from 13 percent in 2006-07, according to the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials. … On average, special-education costs increased by 5 percent each year between 2008 and 2016, Ms. Staley said. In some districts, however, costs grew at a much more rapid pace. In Upper Darby, special-education costs more than doubled, rising from $20 million in 2008 to $42 million in 2016, while the state share of those costs fell from 35 percent to 18 percent. Philadelphia's special-education costs nearly doubled during those years — from $304 million to $598 million — while the state share dropped from 42 percent to 23 percent. “Our special education costs have risen exponentially while state aid for special education has increased marginally,” said Uri Monson, the district’s chief financial officer. The law center didn't analyze the reasons for the cost increases. …