O’Neill Bill Would Apply Special Education Funding Formula to Charter Schools
HARRISBURG – Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) today reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives to apply the same statewide funding formula used to drive out funding to special education programs in Pennsylvania public school districts to charter schools, regional charter schools and cyber charter schools.

The formula, which was developed by the Special Education Funding Commission in 2013 under the direction of O’Neill and Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), is based on three cost categories for students receiving special education services, ranging from least intensive to most intensive.

“The commission’s formula has been successfully driving new money to school districts based on their actual special education needs,” O’Neill said. “My proposal would apply the same funding principles to charter schools, regional charter schools or cyber charter schools.”

The formula also takes into account factors reflecting community differences such as market value/personal income aid ratio, equalized millage rate, and small and rural school districts.

“Many factors impact the financial stability of special education programs in our schools,” O’Neill added. “We do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to education – each student’s unique needs are taken into consideration – and the way we distribute funding to all of our schools, including our charter schools, should be no different.”
O’Neill’s proposal, House Bill 1643, calls for a gradual phase-in of the formula for newly enrolled students receiving special education services.

The Special Education Funding Commission, created through O’Neill’s Act 3 of 2013, was charged with developing a system for allocating any new state special education funding in a manner that recognizes the actual number of special needs students in a school and the various levels of their need for services. The commission held public hearings throughout Pennsylvania to gather input from schools, students, parents, educators and experts on special education before releasing its recommendations in 2013.

House Bill 1643 has been referred to the House Education Committee.

Representative Bernie O’Neill
29th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Abbey Haslam

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