As Pennsylvania’s Special Education Funding Commission travels through the state to hear concerns regarding special education, officials are beginning to rethink the formula that is used for funding. Educators throughout the state of Pennsylvania are expressing concerns regarding the needs of special education students, saying that the increase in students has led to a need for an increase in funding.
Pennsylvania Special Education Funding Commission
The Special Education Funding Commission was originally established in Act 2 of 2012. This was done to review and make recommendations regarding special education funding within the state. During a series of meetings in 2013, the commission created a funding formula that provided additional money for the school districts that were in the greatest need. With the arising concerns regarding the funding today, the commission has been reconstituted to review the formula.
Special Education Funding Concerns
At a meeting held by the panelists in the Manheim Township School District, a conclusion was reached that special education has changed over time since the funding formula was created. There are many more students today that need services than in the past. Michele Reichard-Huff, director of early childhood and student services for the Berks County Intermediate Unit, stated, “Statewide data shows that we have seen a 12 percent increase of students with emotional disturbances, a 34 percent increase in students with autism and a 47 percent increase in students with other health impairments.”
Special education students are in need of services that include speech therapy, behavioral therapy, and individuals aides for each student and transportation services. In addition to this, teachers must be trained in order to provide students with these resources. Without the proper funding, students in need are unable to receive the proper education. President of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education Kali Fedor believes, “We need to look at how can we get more funding into education in general so we can also get funding for special education and gifted.”
Other panelists attending the meeting agreed that special education needs more funding and a plan moving forward in order to accomplish what they are setting out to do. The Special Education Funding Commission will draft a report regarding their findings on their travels throughout the state and submit it to the General Assembly by November 30.
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