Lawmakers Propose Extra Funds to Cover High Special Ed Costs

by Shaun Heasley | October 22, 2019

School districts facing especially high costs to educate students with disabilities would get additional help under a new proposal in Congress.

A bill introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives offers up a path to extra money for schools with special education expenses that are three or more times the average cost per student.

Under the legislation known as the IDEA High Cost Pool Funding Act, or H.R. 4673, the federal government would kick in added support to states that establish pools to reimburse schools with expenses beyond the threshold.

Backers say the measure would help make up for the federal government’s failure to fully fund special education services.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has helped children with disabilities receive the educational services and resources they need to be successful in school,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who introduced the bill along with Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif. “Sadly, the federal government has never lived up to its commitments to provide schools and teachers with the resources required for all children to excel and live meaningful lives. The IDEA High Cost Pool Funding Act will ensure that our schools receive reimbursement for these services so they can continue to meet special education needs and help students reach their full potential.”

When the IDEA originated, Congress committed to covering 40 percent of the cost of special education services. But, according to the lawmakers behind the bill, that figure now stands at just 15 percent. As a result, states and localities must make up the difference.

“Across my district, I have repeatedly heard from educators that their budgets do not go far enough to help students with disabilities,” DeSaulnier said. “The federal government has a moral obligation to step in and help. Efforts like this one can help us fulfill our promise to provide a quality education to all children.”

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