PSBA Closer Look: It’s time to reform special education payments for charter schools

Pennsylvania School Boards Association

The special education funding formula currently used for school districts correctly recognizes that not all students identified for special education have the same educational needs and costs. The formula considers the number of low-, moderate-, and high-need students in the school district and includes factors related to school district wealth and other conditions. Unfortunately, charter schools are still paid using the flawed formula in the charter school law that does not reflect what the charter schools are spending to educate their students with disabilities. That formula also incorrectly assumes that every district serves a special education population equal to 16% of its students and assumes that all students receiving special education have the same educational costs. The resulting impact is the overpayment of millions of dollars each year by school districts to charter schools. The use of the old formula creates an incentive to over-identify students for special education services. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association urges the General Assembly to abandon the use of the outdated, unfair formula and enact legislation to apply a tiered special education funding formula to charter schools that directs dollars based upon the needs and costs of each student.