KSDE Weekly

Reporting and Operations

Special education task force meets to develop recommendations

A special task force created by the legislature to study the existing funding formula for special education met Friday, Jan. 5, at the Kansas Statehouse to develop recommendations to send to the Kansas Legislature. 

One of those recommendations was that the Special Education and Related Services Funding Task Force continue to meet over the next several years to delve further into the funding of special education and related services. 

The task force is made up of legislative and non-legislative members, including Kansas State Board of Education Chair Melanie Haas. During Friday’s meeting, Haas was appointed chair of the task force. Rep. Valdenia Winn. 

Thirteen people provided testimony during the meeting, including Dr. John Hess, director of KSDE’s Fiscal Services and Operations. Hess was the first person to testify and provided a brief history and overview of special education funding in Kansas from the 19070s to the present. 

The Special Education for Exceptional Children Act (SEECA) was passed in 1974. It required a provision for providing special education services to students and authorized state aid to school districts to help provide those services. State aid often covered 100% of excess costs thru the mid-1980s. 

By the 1990s, the policy goal was to fund special education at 92% of excess costs. State aid ranged between 77% and 95% from FY 1990-FY 1999. Catastrophic state aid began in SY 1994-1995, which is state aid to USDs for special education students with particularly costly services. 

In 2005, the funding level of 92% of excess costs was written into state statute. From fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2023, special education state aid increased by 27.3% while special education expenditures increased by 44.5%.  

Hess clarified that the Excess Costs Formula was designed to determine how much to appropriate for special education state aid and was not designed to determine how much aid individual districts should receive. 

The formula is: 

Excess costs = Total cost of providing SPED services – Cost of regular education for SPED students – Federal aid for SPED. 

Also providing testimony on evidence-based solutions for special education funding were Kansas educators, representatives of education advocacy groups and private citizens. Additionally, 52 people submitted written testimony. 

Additional recommendations included: 

  • The state moves the first distribution of special education funding to Aug. 1 prior to the next school year instead of October. 
  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) work to increase Medicaid codes available to school districts and educational organizations. 
  • An examination of how school districts distribute special education funds and the factors that affect funding levels. 
  • The Kansas Legislature should fund the Kansas State Board of Education recommendation to reach 92% of excess costs over a four-year period. This would cost $82.8 million per year. 


The task force has until Sunday, Jan. 14, to submit their recommendations to the legislature. Any future meetings of the Special Education and Related Services Task Force will be announced at a later date. 

Posted: Jan 11, 2024,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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