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Advocates, Administrators Ask Lawmakers To Consider More Funding In Special Ed Reform

At the same time, Texas is under a federal mandate to improve access to special education, a state commission is reviewing the school finance system, which could include changes to special ed funding

HISD Board President Wanda Adams and Trustee Anne Sung listened to parents share their frustration and questions about special education in the district. Sung is chairing a new committee on the issue.
HISD Board President Wanda Adams and Trustee Anne Sung listened to parents share their frustration and questions about special education in the district. Sung is chairing a new committee on the issue in HISD.

To fix special education in Texas, advocates and school administrators say lawmakers need to increase funding.

At a hearing Monday in Austin, state senators reviewed how Texas education officials plan to better serve children with disabilities.

So far, the Texas Education Agency plans to use existing federal funds to make sure children with disabilities aren’t denied special education. For example, it will invest $10 million to help school districts evaluate students with special needs.

Advocates say that’s not enough.

“This plan does not and will not translate into actionable change without additional funding and financial resources,”  Kristin McGuire with the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education told the Texas Senate’s education committee. 

Since Texas stopped pressuring districts to limit special ed, enrollment has edged up to almost 9 percent of all children. Education Commissioner Mike Morath said that if it returns to the national average of 12 percent, it could cost easily cost the state another billion dollars, based on the state’s current funding formula.

But it also leads to another question, as Morath told lawmakers.

As students are identified for special ed supports, they will draw additional state aid. The question is, is the state aid that they draw sufficient enough to cover the costs associated with those students?” Morath said.

At the same time Texas is under a federal mandate to improve access to special education, a state commission is reviewing the school finance system, which could include changes to special ed funding.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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