Resources: Special Education Funding

Special Education Funding

Fair School Funding

  • Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year that includes increases for education — increases that are critical for children in Pennsylvania. But they will not be enough to provide children across the state with the resources they need to succeed in school.

    Our budget brief reviews what the governor’s budget proposes for education, why this matters, and what happens now.

    Read the budget brief here.

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  • Dozens of Pennsylvania organizations and advocates joined in a letter to Gov. Wolf in January 2020, urging him to help address the unmet needs of over 270,000 students with disabilities in Pennsylvania by increasing investment in special education and basic education in his FY2020-21 budget.

    The letter calls for an increase of $100 million in special education funding and for restoring the declining state share of special education funding to the level of a decade ago – as well as calling for additional dollars in basic education funding to close the state’s massive adequacy gap . Finally, it calls for revisions to the state’s special education funding formula, both to better reflect district poverty and to extend the current three-tier funding system to charter schools, tying funding levels to student need.

    Read the letter.

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  • ELC policy director Reynelle Brown Staley testified to the Pennsylvania legislature’s Special Education Funding Commission on Oct. 8, as the commission wrapped up a series of hearings to review the state’s funding formula for special education.

    Staley noted that it bears emphasizing that decisions about how to distribute funds cannot truly be divorced from the issue of how much funding is available. “When resources are scarce, decisions about how those resources are distributed can either sustain or debilitate a community,” she said.

    ELC’s recommendations for making the funding formula more equitable included introducing some of the measures of district need that are used in the formula for basic education; adding weights to account for the unrecognized costs of special education services for particular marginalized populations such as English learners; and dedicating a bigger chunk of any funding increases to support the poorest, most inadequately funded school districts.

     

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  • This October 2018 report from the Education Law Center highlights how the rise in special education costs in districts across the state is outpacing state special education funding, creating new challenges for underfunded school districts.

    Read the Report

    See the district-level special education funding data

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  • Education Law Center Staff Attorney David Lapp’s testimony to the Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding Commission on November 18, 2014, entitled “Time for a Rational Fix to the Special Education Tuition in Pennsylvania Charter Schools.”

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  • The Special Education Funding Commission held public hearings throughout the state in 2013, receiving testimony from dozens of witnesses. Students, parents, educators, and national experts uniformly emphasized the long-term impact of the state funding system on the ability of schools to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

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Special Education Funding

Equal Access

Special Education Funding

School to Prison Pipeline