Funding models for special education in other states was a key focus of a hearing held Tuesday by Senate E-12 Policy Committee Chair Eric Pratt. This marks the second hearing in a series on Special Education policy and its impact on student service and funding.

Read all meeting documents posted.

View video of committee meeting.

Models in Other States

That Wyoming is the only state to fully fund the SPED cross subsidy was a highlight of testimony. It came from Emily Parker, policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States. She reviewed seven different funding models that states use and noted that Minnesota uses a combination of funding models.

She testified that IDEA puts the responsibility to provide individualized education on school districts, not the states. As a result, she observed, when states provide SPED funding to assist districts with their SPED costs, that funding supports the general education of the district, because students on IEP’s are already receiving their services. Increased state SPED funding does not increase SPED services.  View the presentation

(It should be noted that Wyoming’s 2018 total public school investment is $4,060 more per pupil than Minnesota and is ranked seventh among the states.  Minnesota is ranked No. 20, according to data from

Wide Cross Subsidy Range

MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan testified on the wide range of cross subsidy amounts among Minnesota school districts and explained the MREA SPED Equity proposal introduced in the Minnesota House in 2018.  Four metropolitan school districts, Duluth, and MSBA, AMSD and SEE also provided testimony.

The first of the E-12 Policy Committee meetings on SPED was held July 24 with the Office of Legislative Auditor presenting their 2013 Special Education Report and MDE reporting on enrollment and expenditure trends. Read all meeting documents posted.   View video of committee meeting

Next Meeting

The next Senate E-12 Policy Committee meeting on Special Education will be held from 9 am to noon on Sept. 25. Chair Pratt is looking for testifiers with data and historical perspective on “What is different now?”

MREA seeks data from member districts that address key questions such as:

  • Why is the cross subsidy a greater problem today than 10, 20 or 30 years ago?
  • Are we identifying more students?
  • Is that because we are better at identifying students, or is something else going on?
  • Are more students presenting more complicated educational challenges?
  • Are there specific Minnesota policies and practices that are driving increased costs and the cross subsidy?

Please contact Fred at with your experience and if you are willing to testify Sept. 25.