MTPR

Lawmakers Consider Special Ed Funding Increases Tied To Inflation

Jun 13, 2016

State lawmakers are working on bills to allow funding for K through 12 special education programs to keep up with inflation. One said the funding was "overlooked" last session.

In the last legislative session, general education funding was given an increase to keep up with inflation, but special education was not, says Billings Democratic Representative Kathy Kelker.

"In terms of just equal opportunity, the inflationary increase should a no brainer; that should have happened."

Because it didn’t, Kelker says, school districts have had to dip into their general funds to pay for special education costs.

"It's adversely affecting relationships. It's like special ed is stealing money from general ed, and it's not the fault of the children or the people who work in special ed, it’s just the system that we have."

Statewide, the average local district is paying more than 40 percent of special education costs from its regular education funding.

The School Funding Commission will meet again later this summer to review bill proposals before the finalizing them for the session.