HB 704 - Special Education Funding - Pennsylvania Key Vote


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Title: Special Education Funding

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that provides an equation for the appropriation of special education funding.


-Establishes an equation to be used by the state legislature to appropriate special education funding for school districts that takes into account, but is not limited to, the following components (Sec. 2):

    -The special education allocation in the base year for the school district in question; -Any difference between the total state appropriation for special education aggregated for all school districts in the year for which funds are being appropriated and the total state appropriation for special education in the immediately preceding year; -The average of eligible disabled students in the district over the last 3 years; and -Any special education formula components established by the Legislative Commission on Special Education.
-Requires the Legislative Commission on Special Education to perform the following tasks prior to developing special education formula components (Sec. 2):
    -To consider nationally accepted accounting and 'costing-out' standards; -To hold at least 3 public hearings to receive testimony and input; and -To appoint 3 legislators from each of the 4 legislative caucuses to the Commission, and choose a chairperson.
-Requires the Department of Education to set aside 1 percent of the total state special education appropriation in each year for extraordinary special education program expenses for eligible students with significant disabilities whose special education program costs are greater than those of typical special education students (Sec. 2). -Requires the Department of Education to establish a competitive grant program for school districts or charter schools that meet the following criteria (Sec. 2):
    -Provides instruction in the classroom for at least 80 percent of the day for at least 65 percent of eligible students; -Meets state standards for adequate yearly progress according to performance on state academic assessments in reading and math; and -Implements programs or services that serve as a model of excellence for meeting high standards for inclusion and student achievement through quality special education.
-Requires the Department of Education to issue guidelines for the use of state funds to benefit eligible students and contribute to achievement of performance indicators in the following areas (Sec. 2):
    -Curricula adaptation; -Co-teaching; -Assistive technology; -School-wide positive behavior supports; -Supplementary aids and services; -Professional development; -Reading specialist services and supports; -Reducing caseloads for special education teachers; and -Placing and serving eligible students in classrooms with supports in accordance with the 'Individual Education Program' developed for each student.
-Requires the Department of Education to issue an annual report on special education funding to the General Assembly (Sec. 2). -Requires the Department of Education to conduct a review of the special education plan of any school district whose ratio of eligible students to its average daily membership of all students is substantially higher than the state average, in an attempt to discourage the over-identification of children for special education (Sec. 2). -Specifies that this act will take effect immediately upon passage (Sec. 4).