Feb 22, 2013 11:35 AM by AP

Louisiana special ed plans to change

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Faced with criticism from local superintendents, state Superintendent of Education John White says he is changing plans to overhaul the way the state funds its 82,000 special-education students.

Under a proposal that White spelled out to superintendents on Feb. 14, Louisiana's funding method would be revamped over three years to improve the state's 29 percent graduation rate, which is the second lowest in the nation.

Under the latest plan, the state would roll out a limited tryout of the new funding method for the 2013-14 school year, then examine the results.

Whether the new funding method will take effect statewide in 2015-16 as initially envisioned is unclear.

"I think we need to see what the impact is," White said.

He told the Advocate ( ) the changes show that state leaders are listening to local superintendents.

"We are heeding their caution," White said.

Michael Faulk, who is chairman of the Superintendent's Advisory Council, said Thursday he is pleased with the slowdown.

"We want a more careful approach," said Faulk, who is also superintendent of the Central public school system.

"There is a lot of uncertainty out there," he said.

White has repeatedly said that the state's 29 percent graduation rate - ahead of only the 23 percent rate in Mississippi and Nevada - cries out for action.

The state now spends $313 million for special education.

Allocations focus simply on whether a student is categorized that way.

Under White's plan, money would be spent based on a student's disability, where and how the student is educated and academic performance.

Louisiana's top school board is set to take up the topic on March 7-8 in connection with its annual public school funding request from the Legislature.


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