CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill on first reading on Thursday, Feb. 13 which would eliminate caps on special education spending in the state.
The bill may see amendments on further readings in the House. They’ll need to pass the bill on two further readings before it would be sent to the Senate for consideration.
House District 50 Representative David Northrup explained that school district’s in the state had their special education spending capped two years ago.
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“We gave them an additional two million dollars in case something happened,” Northrup added.
He said that the $2 million in funding was meant for situations in which a school district needs to send a student with special needs to an outside institution.
“When they are in an outside institution, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to take care of that child,” Northrup said. “What this bill does is remove [the spending] cap so they can start operating as they would like to operate. We’d hope that they’d keep operating in an efficient manner.”
House District 20 Representative Albert Sommers said that the cap will automatically expire in one year. He said that he’d like to see the bill move forward to allow discussion on implementing a “rated increase” on the spending cap amounts over time.
He said that there is an average increase of about 4% in annual special education funding needs in Wyoming.
“We really need to fund special education, but at what rate of increase do we fund it?” he said, adding that he may propose a rated increase cap amendment to the bill.
House District 09 Representative Landon Brown said the school districts have been efficient in the way they fund special education.
“At this point in time, they have also found efficiencies,” he said. “Now they are in kind of critical mass state. They are not able to fund the new kids that are coming in. “
“Keep this bill alive, let’s have a broader discussion.”
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