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Politics & Government

Special Education Funding Formula in the Spotlight

A new panel in charge of coming up with a different funding formula for special education in Pennsylvania is in place.

The commission of state lawmakers and a few members of the governor’s cabinet will attempt to find a replacement for the current formula, which doles out money based on a set percentage of each school district’s enrollment.

State Republican Representative Bernie O’Neill of Bucks County pushed for the panel for years.

He said the current funding formula for special education wasn’t designed to deal with school districts that grapple with higher special education costs.

"Who was making up the difference?" O'Neill said. "The difference was being made up by the local taxpayer. It was adding to a lot of costs to the local taxpayer for student services and education."

He also pointed to broken promises on the part of the federal government, which he said has rarely allocated the 40 percent of special education funding it has set down in law for school districts.

The 15-member Special Education Funding Commission is made up of legislators, two cabinet secretaries, and an official from the state Department of Education.

O’Neill said it will issue its recommendations in November.