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Act 16 Special Education Student Count

One way to modify the special education charter school tuition rate calculation in section 1725-A(a)(3) of the Public School Code would be to use the acctual percentage of special educaiton students in the calculation, saving school districts a net of approximately $65 million. Click here to see how your school districts benefit from these amendments. 

Currently, the calculation requires a school district to divide its special education expenditures by 16% of its total population, regardless of their actual special education percentage. When the charter school law was written, the average special education population of a school district was about 16%; however, today, the special education population is much greater than 16% in many school districts.
 
School districts with a special education population greater than 16% are paying a higher charter school special education tuition rate than they should, since they’re dividing by a number that’s smaller than their special education population.
 
As an easy example, assume a school district has $30,000 in special education expenditures and 100 ADMs. The current special education charter school tuition rate would require the $30,000 to be divided by 16% of 100 students—or 16. This would result in a special education amount of $1,875. That amount would be added to the district’s regular education tuition rate.
 
If, however, the school district had a special education population of 25%, rather than use a fictitious 16%, the denominator under this amendment would be the actual of 25, and the special education amount added on to the regular education tuition rate would be $1,200.
 
The change uses the same data that is reported annually via Act 16 reporting in PIMS and used in the school district special education funding formula. This special education population is compared to the school district’s total ADMs.
 
Currently, the median special education percentage across districts is 19.8%, and there are 405 school districts with a special education percentage equal to or greater than 16%. The other 95 school districts have a special education percentage less than 16%—and this amendment would increase the special education charter school tuition rate for those school districts.
 
This change would reduce the special education charter school tuition rate for 401 school districts with percentages greater than 16%. The net savings across all school districts, based on charter school special education enrollment, would be approximately $65 million. 
 
The 95 school districts that would pay more in special education charter school tuition would pay less than $4 million more collectively; however, half of this amount is as a result of inaccuracies in school district reported Act 16 data, which should be remedied with PDE. The result will be to increase the savings and number of school districts getting relief on their special education charter school tuition rate.