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Pennsylvania: SPED costs expected to grow $200M/yr topping $6 billion in 2020-21

Feb 23, 2020, OP ED—Schools are struggling to keep up with rising costs The concerns outlined in the recent article, “West Perry worries over special education costs” are indicative of anxieties that administrators and school board directors across the state are feeling this time of year. Increases in mandated expenses for school districts are estimated to top $455 million this year alone, and special education costs are expected to continue to grow by more than $200 million per year, topping $6 billion in 2020-21. Other mandated costs for charter school enrollment – the amount school districts must pay charter schools – are estimated to grow by more than $175 million in the upcoming budget year. In the West Perry School District, the proposed $42 million budget included a tax increase of 9.15 percent. In the article, the business manager at West Perry, Stevie Davis, channeled the struggles of administrators in districts across the state, “We do what we can to control costs,” Davis said, “but the state doesn’t pay its fair share of education costs.” Schools are struggling to keep up with rising costs and to head off program cuts. In order to help local districts hold down property taxes and improve outcomes for students, the General Assembly needs to do its part. …

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