By Christina Samuels from On Special Education
After trying more than once to do so, Pennsylvania is poised to make a change in its 22-year-old funding formula for special education.
Last week the state House passed, on a 193-0 vote, a bill that would create a 15-member commission to study the issue and develop a recommendation that would take into account the severity of a student's disability when it comes to funding districts. Enrollment and district wealth would also play a factor in determining how much special education money a district would get. The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania described the current funding landscape and recent political moves in an editorial that spoke in favor of the changes.
Currently, Pennsylvania distributes state special education dollars to its 501 districts using a simple formula known as "census-based" funding: The state assumes that 16 percent of a district's student population requires special services, and distributes a share of money based solely on that percentage.
The benefit of such a formula, some say, is that districts have no incentive to inflate their special education population in order to get more money. But one downside comes from the fact that special education students are not evenly distributed across a state—some districts with high numbers of students in special education could end up without enough money, while districts with low numbers could be overfunded.
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