Special Education Preschool Funding
Special education is a very expensive, underfunded, mandated program that consumes both special funding and a large amount of general funds in all school districts. General fund “encroachment” – the amount of money taken from the general fund of a district to make up the difference between cost to operate special education programs and federal/state special education funding – is at all time highs.
District 06-07 and 07-08 General Fund Encroachment
Castaic $1.16 million 1.43 million
Newhall $1.74 million 2.33 million
Saugus $2.47 million 3.00 million
Sulphur Springs $2.00 million 1.83 million
Much of the encroachment is due to the fact that elementary districts receive no funding for special education preschool programs. The provision of services for 3 to 5 year olds with diagnosed disabilities is mandated by the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When the system of special education funding (AB602) was reformed in 1998, it was based on K-12 expenditures. No state funding is specifically designated for the preschool program and it has been growing dramatically in the last five years. Much of the growth can be traced back to the diagnosis and demand for service for students with autism. Autism and other disabilities, once diagnosed, require early and intensive therapies. It has been assumed that the costs can be absorbed in the already meager funds received for K-6 special education.
Special Education Preschool Costs by District, including salaries and materials:
District 06-07 Pupil Count Preschool Cost 07-08 Pupil Count Preschool Cost
Castaic 49 $406,787 50 $402,665
Newhall 115 $740,315 122 $972,311
Saugus 164 $1,203,495 159 $1,026,248
Sulphur Springs 129 $1,050,367 102 $1,236,112
We get no state funding for preschool special education students (not even ADA) and we get a tiny federal grant to be spread between all districts in the SELPA.