Pa. searching for more equitable way of funding special education

    Pennsylvania lawmakers intend to consider how the state can create a better way to fund special education.

    State Rep. Bernie O’Neill, who will co-chair the panel, has pushed to create the Special Education Funding Commission for years.

    He says the current funding formula doesn’t account for school districts with special education needs that continue to exceed what the state will cover.

    “So what happens was you had a lot of winners and a lot of losers. You actually had school districts who for years were being overfunded. And I mean, overfunded,” said O’Neill, R-Bucks. “And then you had other school districts who were growing and getting bigger and had larger populations who were grossly underfunded.”

    A report released by a coalition of education and disability rights groups in 2009 found well over half of Pennsylvania’s school districts had inadequate funding for special education.

    An earlier plan to create the commission died last year after it became a vehicle for charter and cyber charter school overhaul proposals, which failed to win bicameral support.

    The panel is made up of 12 lawmakers and three officials from the Corbett administration.

    Hearings will begin soon, and final recommendations are expected in November.

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