Special education funding is creating fiscal and educational challenges for Wisconsin school districts as costs continue to rise while state and federal aid lags behind, according to a new Wisconsin Policy Forum report.
For the 2017-18 school year, special education costs eligible for state aid rose to about $1.4 billion, an 18.3 percent increase from the 2007-08 school year. Despite the higher costs, state aid for special education remained flat, covering only $368.9 million per year.
Due to the gap in funding, school districts are forced to use general education dollars to pay for special education costs. To stay under the state’s per pupil spending limits, increased special education costs also result in school districts being forced to decrease spending on other programs.