$400 million shortfall in SC special education classrooms

GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA (FOX Carolina) – The federal government feels the state is short on funding for special education.

FOX Carolina Investigates found that nearly 50 years ago, Congress pledged to fund 40% of the average cost of all special education students entering public schools. But as of 2020, he’s just over 13% of the costs actually covered.

Danni Bloom, Director of Policy and Outreach for ARC South Carolina, said: “I mean, without it, it’s a crisis.”

Bloom knows firsthand how dire the situation is when it comes to funding special education. Her 24-year-old son, Christian, has autism.

ARC South Carolina is a group that advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We are writing letters,” Bloom said. “We are working on our legal defense.”

South Carolina should receive about $600 million for its 100,000 IDEA-qualified students, when it actually receives just over $200 million. This creates a gap of $400 million.

“That’s $4,000 per student, which is underfunded,” says Bloom. “So schools are trying to cover the difference by reducing programs that affect children with and without disabilities.”

For the Bloom family, lack of funds meant they had to fight for resources that should have been readily available.

“There were many times when I needed extra help. [Christian] And the school didn’t have enough money to provide it,” Bloom said.

Last year, the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement reported 162 special education teacher vacancies in South Carolina. We also found that teacher vacancies in that category were growing faster than others.

Bloom said a better funding program could help.

“Teachers are difficult to recruit and retain,” she said.

Last year, lawmakers in Washington proposed the IDEA Full Funding Act, which lays out a plan for achieving full funding over the next 10 years.

Bloom said he is hopeful, but he wants lawmakers to hear this message:

“Start prioritizing our children, children with special needs,” she said. fulfill.”

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