- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A pilot project in New Orleans could pave the way for sweeping changes in how the state funds special education students.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1rcj2mM ) the plan is focused on providing services based on need for about 3,500 students in the Recovery School District in New Orleans. The pilot project in New Orleans bases funding on the student’s disability and the service provided.

Under current rules, most of Louisiana’s roughly 83,000 special education students get the same state aid regardless of their disability - generally 150 percent of what rank-and-file students get.

But state Superintendent of Education John White said the aim is to expand the New Orleans changes statewide, possibly for the 2015-16 school year. He says the pilot project would rearrange spending in a more equitable manner.

“My hope is that we will be able to take this pilot in Orleans Parish and expand a similar framework statewide with the support of special education advocates and educators,” White said.



While issues remain, special education forces say the trial run in New Orleans could offer answers for a longstanding problem.

“We are all supportive of what they are doing in the RSD,” said Ashley McReynolds, a special education advocate who often testifies at meetings of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Legislature.

“We wanted to know why they aren’t doing it for all the other students in the state,” she said.

Last year, White proposed an overhaul in special education aid, in part because only 29 percent of those students are graduating from public high schools.

The state was spending $313 million per year to aid children with a wide range of disabilities, including speech or language impediments, various mental disabilities, hearing issues, deafness, vision problems and autism.

He said that under the new plan, state aid would be linked to specific disabilities, where and how the student is educated and academic performance.

Critics disputed the 29 percent graduation rate, and they said White’s plan was put together without enough input from parents.

A scaled-down version of White’s plan was included in BESE’s public school spending request to the 2013 Legislature.

But that funding plan - called the Minimum Foundation Program - died.

___

Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide