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Report: Michigan’s special education students underserved by $700 million

Nov 22, 2017

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When it comes to paying for special education, Michigan comes up short. By about $700 million. That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.      

Calley previously instructed a subcommittee on the Special Education Reform Task Force to explore the funding needs for special education. 

“What’s at stake here is making sure that every single student has the ability to live a full and independent self-determined life,” he said.

The subcommittee makes several recommendations including reducing inequities based on where kids live and providing financial incentives for schools that use best practices for special education services. Here is the full list of recommendation by the committee:

·         Expand Early On in Michigan services

·         Provide financial incentives for Pre-K and K-12 to implement best practices in Special Education services

·         Increase support for community-based supported employment transition services for students starting at age 16

·         Increasing support for professional development for teachers to prepare them to meet the needs of all learners 

·         Reduce inequities based on ZIP code 

·         Providing schools with both the foundation allowance and reimbursement for special education expenses

·         Fund regional family support service resource centers 

What Calley really wants is for the state to overhaul how it provides for special education students.

“There’s no way it would happen overnight,” he said. “But it’s something that the sooner that we start, the sooner we’re going to get there.”

Calley said he plans to work with the State Budget Office to find room in next year’s budget for various programs to increase funding.

The report also says that when special education isn’t funded, all students lose. The subcommittee found that the lack of money for special education students results in a “shortfall” of $459 per student in the state.

“Because special education services must be funded regardless of whether there is sufficient state or federal funding to cover the costs in their entirety, the dollars needed to cover the shortfall actually come from the general operating budgets of schools,” the report said. “In short, school districts must reduce the amount they spend on all students by $459 per pupil to cover the shortfall in special education funding.”