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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: March 10, 2014 02:05 PM
From: Representative Bernie O'Neill
To: All House members
Subject: Special Education Funding Formula Legislation
I plan to introduce legislation recommended by the Special Education Funding Formula Commission (established pursuant to Act 3 of 2013), to create an effective formula to distribute state funding for special education.

Currently, state funding for special education is distributed based on an estimate that children with disabilities comprise 16 percent of the overall student population in each school district. This unnecessarily rigid formula does not accurately allocate state funding because it fails to take into account the actual number of students needing special education services or the type and intensity of support they require to succeed in school.

Act 3 created a legislative commission to recommend an effective formula to distribute state funding for special education. The Commission members heard testimony for six months from over 50 witnesses at seven public hearings held throughout the state. Commission members considered complex issues and options for addressing systemic problems related to special education funding
The Commission recommended the establishment of a new special education funding formula to ensure that state money is adequately and equitably distributed. This recommendation follows the parameters contained in Act 3 for distributing any increase in special education funding over 2010-11 levels. The proposed formula includes the use of three cost categories for students receiving special education services, ranging from least intensive to most intensive. In addition, the formula reflects community levels of poverty, property taxes, and other factors needed for a fair and accurate distribution of funds. The new formula would be used only for NEW monies appropriated. In addition, hold harmless would apply to existing special education funding.

Also included in the Commission’s recommendations is to apply the same basic funding principles for school districts to charter schools, with the distribution of new funding to be phased in over 3 years; adjustments for local costs differentials and substantiation by charters for costs of category two and three students. Another recommendation by the Commission is for the Approved Private Schools to be eligible to receive unexpended funds from the prior fiscal year APS appropriation. Finally, the current “Contingency Fund” would be renamed the “Extraordinary Cost Fund” and be used for per-student expenses exceeding $75,000.

If you have any questions on this legislation, please contact Connie McClure in my Harrisburg office at 705-7170 or by e-mailing cmcclure@pahousegop.com.

Thank you.

Introduced as HB2138