Special Education Funding Issues
New Special Education Funding Formula

The Minnesota Department of Education recently presented to lawmakers in the Minnesota House regarding the status of special education funding. According to their report, “the new formula is making it difficult for districts to budget”. The new special education funding formula is negatively affecting Waconia Public Schools. 

The cross-subsidy is the amount of money that the district pays out of general education funds for mandates that are not funded by the state for special education costs.

Over the past 4-years, cross-subsidy costs for Waconia Public Schools have risen from $687 to $1,210 per student. What this means is funds that are supposed to be allocated for general education students are being used to pay for special education costs. Nearly $5 million a year that is meant to be spent on all students for educational programming is being diverted to special education.    

New Cross Subsidy

This lack of special education funding has pushed Waconia Public Schools into the negative and the district is in statutory operating debt. This was discovered in January 2019 when the results of the December 2018 audit were verified. [Why Now?]

Supt. Pat Devine

Waconia Public Schools is not alone as there are dozens of districts across the state in similar situations. [media coverage]

Having legislators change the special education funding formula could fix this situation potentially overnight but, we cannot rely solely on them to pass legislation to make it more equitable. [contact legislators]

Voters approved an operating levy last November for $525 per student. At that time, $525 per student is what we needed to maintain programming. The operating levy will balance two-thirds of the new deficit spending amount.

The difference, 2.86% of the budget, needed to come in the form of reductions in the 2019-2020 budget.  [budget reductions]