Longietti reappointed to Special Education Funding Commission

Will review formula used for allocating funding to school districts

HARRISBURG, Sept. 3 – Continuing his efforts to ensure that Pennsylvania’s special education students receive the resources they need to succeed, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced that he has been reappointed to sit on the House Special Education Funding Commission as it reconvenes this year to review its funding formula.

First established in 2012, the commission developed a formula for determining how special education funding is distributed to school districts throughout the commonwealth. Longietti noted that the formula – which took effect for the 2014-15 fiscal year – dramatically changed how funding decisions were made.

“Before the commission was established, funding for special education students was based on bare assumptions and general estimates that often failed to reflect real-world numbers and needs,” Longietti said. “The formula developed by the commission and later adopted into law factors in the actual number of students needing services in each district, the different levels of services needed, and the amount of funding needed relative to regular education students.

“The result is a better way to allocate funding that treats districts fairly, eliminates guesswork, trims waste, and delivers services where they are actually needed. But like any formula that is based on real-world circumstances, the numbers, categories and criteria may need to be adjusted to keep pace with changing times and evolving education trends. A formula that worked well five years ago may not work as well today.

“That’s why the commission has been reconvened this year – to study those factors; gather input from teachers, parents and other community stakeholders; and determine whether adjustments are needed. I’m looking forward to continuing my role on the commission to ensure Pennsylvania’s special education students receive the funding they need to achieve and succeed.”

Longietti noted that the newly reconvened commission held an organizational meeting last week and plans to hold three input hearings – one in western Pennsylvania, one in Harrisburg, and one in the eastern part of the state – along with surveys before submitting its recommendations to the state.

The commission is required to issue a report with its recommendations by Nov. 30. Any changes to the formula would need to be approved by the General Assembly.

Under existing state law, the formula does not apply to charter or cyber charter schools.