Often it is said that the word TEAM can also be an acronym for Together Everyone Achieves More. Nowhere is this idea more visible than in the current fight for the Kansas legislature to legally fund special education to its required level. By working together to legally fund special education all Kansas students, parents, and community members will achieve more in public education. 

Federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA states that all children with disabilities from the ages of 3-21 must receive a free and appropriate public education under their specialized plans known as an IEP. One in six public school students in Kansas receive special education services. Moreover, since 2001 special education enrollment has increased by 20%. Children ages three to five receiving special services has risen 52.3% since 2001.

Current Kansas state statute mandates that 92% of the excess costs of special education must be funded by the state, leaving just 8% to local school districts. Although this is the law, historically Kansas has not funded special education to the required level. For the 2022-2023 school year it is estimated that 70.8% will be funded by the state leaving almost 30% passed on to local school districts. The Kansas Department of Education indicates special education is currently underfunded by 140 million. The Kansas Legislature’s failure to follow the law is putting a considerable strain on already stretched local school district budgets. Properly funding special education as the law requires could result in public school districts like USD 495 having more money in their general fund for more teachers and support staff, new or expanded educational programs, research based curriculum, improved facilities and updated transportation. Properly funding special education helps all students, staff members and local communities to reach their fullest potential. As the November 8 Election Day draws closer please take time to become informed of candidates both at the state and local levels and their stance on special education excess cost funding. More importantly, make your voice heard by voting on Election Day or with an advanced ballot. Making your voice heard to the Kansas state legislature to fully fund special education will ensure that all students, staff, and community members will achieve more when united together. 

Sources: Kansas Association of School Boards and the Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators