Friday, June 28, 2013

Tarr Succeeds in Securing Special Education Study in Supp Budget

Yesterday the Massachusetts State Senate debated a $127 million supplemental budget to fund existing appropriations contained within the FY’13 state budget.   With senators filing 52 amendments to the spending measure I succeeded in securing a greatly needed special education study to assess the services being provided within the Commonwealth. 

Providing effective special education at an affordable cost is one of the single most daunting challenges our school districts continue to face, and this comprehensive review will provide us with the knowledge and understanding we need to meet that challenge. 

The study, which passed unanimously by a voice vote, authorizes Salem State University, in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, local educational authorities, and private educational providers to conduct a sweeping review of the system for providing special education.  The study must be filed by May 1, 2014 to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education. 

The comprehensive study must: 

  • Evaluate existing and potential models for providing special education, and the associated costs and benefits such as personnel compensation, transportation, housing and assistive technologies; 

  • Seek to identify means by which services and instruction may be provided in a proactive manner, without the requirement or need for an individual education plan, but so as to maximize learning progress in local educational settings; and 

  • Include any legislative recommendations for the legislature to consider. 

Given the cost and importance of providing special education, we need to ensure that we aren’t missing any opportunities to do so more cost-effectively.  This long-overdue analysis of our present system will be critical in helping us to chart a course toward a system that’s financially sustainable and that students rightly deserve. 

The supplemental budget will now move to a Joint House-Senate conference committee charged with reconciling the two versions of the spending plan into a single bill for final consideration in each chamber.