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WI: St. Superintendent of School seeks additional $600M for SPED; additional $60M for mental health

July 30, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Evers to seek unprecedented $600 million more in special education funding https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/education/2018/07/30/evers-seek-600-million-more-special-ed-funding/858993002/ Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers will seek an unprecedented increase in school funding for students with disabilities in the 2019-'21 state budget, the latest in a series of announcements by Gov. Scott Walker and his top Democratic challenger as they position themselves as the most education-friendly in advance of the November election. Evers announced Monday that he will seek $969 million in special education funding in the next biennial budget, up 163% from the current $369 million, which has remained flat for the last decade. The move, he said, would more than double the state reimbursement rate for school districts' special education costs, from 27% to 60%, and free up funding at the district level to benefit all students. "It's time that we put this issue front and center," said Evers, the Democratic frontrunner going into the August primary, who was leading Walker, 54% to 41%, in an NBC News/Marist College poll last week. "School districts have a legal obligation to kids with disabilities, and they they are required to provide those services," Evers said. "That in turn puts pressure on the rest of the school budget. It's time to change that momentum." … Education has emerged as a central issue in the campaign for governor, and voters appear open to increasing funding for education Evers' announcement on special education funding comes a week after he said he would be seeking an additional $60 million for mental health services in schools…. Educators and advocates have argued for years that state funding has not kept pace with expenses, as the number of children diagnosed with disabilities -- and the cost of serving them -- has soared and federal funding has declined. Between 1980 and 2016, the number of special education students in Wisconsin's public schools rose from almost 70,000, or 10% of all students, to more than 118,000, or 14%. At the same time, the cost of educating those students soared from almost $161 million to $1.4 billion. And the state's rate of reimbursement fell from about 66% to just under 27%. …