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Canario Bill Would Cap Special Ed Service Cost Hikes

A bill introduced recently by Rep. Dennis Canario would place a cap on private services for special education students in public schools and help keep budgets down.

A bill recently introduced by Rep. Dennis Canario would cap cost increases by private providers for special education services in public schools, keeping them in line with local budgets.

Canario (D-Dist. 71) learned of the stress placed on local budgets from cost increases by private providers after working with members of the Tiverton School Committee.

Canario said the answer “is not short-changing special needs students or trimming back other areas of a school budget to cover higher special education costs. It is finding a way to keep those outside costs from rising so much, so often.”

Legislation introduced by Canario, 2013-H 5203, would prohibit private educational service providers, such as the Groden Center, Bradley Hospital and others, from seeking an annual increase in payments from school departments greater than the four percent increase in tax levy increases allowed for municipalities by state law.

“Students with disabilities and special needs should never be the victims of budget problems in a community,” said Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton).

“As a result of law enacted some years ago, the so-called '3050' that sets a four percent cap on municipal tax levy increases, municipal and school budgets can grow only so much.

"In the face of that, it is a nightmare for schools departments to deal with special ed costs from private providers [growing] at five or eight, or 10 percent each year.”

Canario is looking to hold these private service providers to the same standards so that schools can continue to provide for special needs students within the confines of the budget.

“There may be instances when the specific kind of services provided by these agencies represents a significant change in the normal kinds of services, and obviously that would entail a higher fee,” he said. “But all else being equal, if communities have to live with a 4 percent increase every year, service agencies should not expect more than a 4 percent increase for their services.”

The Canario bill has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. It is co-sponsored by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Rep. Linda Finn (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) and Rep. Frank G. Ferri (D-Dist. 22, Warwick).

Jane Wolk Wheeler February 01, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Excellent. I've had the experience of being told straight out by school staff that my child wouldn't be able to get the services needed simply because the school could never pay for it. Anything that helps the system afford these much needed services is a step in the right direction.
steve pappas February 02, 2013 at 04:39 AM
First, the bill has merit. I would suggest, if people have not already done so, that they familiarize themselves with PL 94-142. Most people know the law acronym as I. D. E. A. The law, passed around 1975 I think, was designed to insure publicly funded special education and related services to any student that needs it, to insure the rights of special education children and their parents and to relieve the special education financial burden of state and local governments. The law, specifically states 50-50 funding. I would suggest you check with the RI Federal Delegation to see just how much of that 50 % federal funding we are actually getting. I think you'll find it to be much less. I certainly agree that no special needs student should be denied an appropriate education. The law, when passed, was somewhat controversial as states and local communities wondered how they could meet the financial requirements......I feel strongly that Portsmouth has met its' commitment. Again, check on the feds. I believe they are behind the eight ball on this one.
steve pappas February 02, 2013 at 05:00 AM
I know the law was revisited around 2008-09-or so, but i don't think Congress ever appropriated enough funds in their budget to get past 20% or so funding. Running on recollection here, so I really think some research can help the cause.
Jane Wolk Wheeler February 05, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Feds have NEVER funded it. Dennis is talking about capping the bill that a service provider can charge so the school has some control since they don't have the amount of $$$ they are meant to have. Nobody does!

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