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Minnesota public schools struggle with staggering costs of special education

According to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a sharp rise in students diagnosed with major disabilities is forcing many Minnesota schools to take difficult and at times divisive new steps to tailor classrooms to the disabled students’ needs, no matter how expensive that gets. Even as overall school enrollment declined over the past decade, the number of disabled students rose 14 percent. Many of the state’s most psychologically troubled students also are being sent to school settings for the first time as mental health programs that once served them have been cut back or eliminated. By law, state and federal budgets are supposed to cover about 90 percent of the cost of educating students with special needs. But they are falling short, shifting much of the cost to local school districts. Spending on special education is soaring — it has risen 70 percent in Minnesota over the past decade to $1.8 billion this school year.

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