Special Ed Funding Questions

The folks at Access Living sent me an analysis of CPS funding for special education that states that the cuts for FY07 are problematic and disproportionate. I don't know what can be done at this point, but there's some interesting info, specific school profiles, and comparisons to what's going on in other cities.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

Here's the executive summary for Access Living:

At the May 24th regularly scheduled meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Access Living presented comments in opposition to proposed reductions for special education programs that would save the school district $26 million. Several Chicago Public School students with disabilities, both current and former, also presented comments in opposition to the proposed budget reductions.

      

In this review we identify the 17 lowest performing CPS secondary schools based on Illinois State Board of Education performance data for students with disabilities in their 2005 State Report Cards. When we examined CPS high schools that were academically the very weakest, most with not one student with a disability in the eleventh grade who could read at state standards, we saw the CPS cutting resources at10 of 17 low performing high schools. Another 5 of these 17 schools avoided cuts and received no additional special education resources. Only 2 of these 17 schools received additional special education resources.

      

In this report we examined appropriations for CPS Office of Specialized Services (OSS) and OSS staff in the area offices. In the proposed FY07 budget is $9.4 million is allocated for these administrative functions. In the FY03 budget these administrative costs totaled about $19.9 million. This represents a decline of 52.7% in four fiscal years. The rate of reduction in the budget for OSS is far greater than that of all administrative units of the CPS over the same time frame. From FY03 to FY07 the Office of the Chief Executive Officer experienced a 13.4% increase.

      

Access Living in this review found that the CPS FY07 budget did not demonstrate that it has been forced to use increased local revenues to provide special education services. Access Living acknowledges that state and federal dollars do not cover the costs for the CPS special education programs. The review notes that virtually all school districts in the nation are underfunded and have been underfunded since the 1970s when the federal law IDEA was enacted. The current fiscal year is in no way exceptional for the CPS in relation to its state and federal funds resources for special education.

      

Overall Access Living concludes that CPS has in relative terms been under funding special education programs for years.

      

Access Living has recommended that the Board authorize an independent study to be made public along the lines of the National Special Education Expenditure Projects 2003 review of the Milwaukee Public Schools.

      

Access Living believes the CPS needs a framework or rubric for the measurement of each schools effectiveness in the delivery of services to students with disabilities in terms of academic achievement. Resources need to be driven, not just by attempting to comply with various regulations, but by attacking the enormous education deficits of students with disabilities attending the CPS. We note that this cannot conceivably be accomplished by having fewer teachers and instructional assistants.

Download al_fy07_cps_special_education_budget_review.doc

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