Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative

Currently, Connecticut is one of only four states with no system for funding all of its roughly 81,800 students who require some special education services. As a result, special education costs for Connecticut’s public schools have become unpredictable, making it difficult for districts to plan budgets that meet the needs of all the students they serve. This unpredictability is why Connecticut must improve how it funds special education, and implement a system that benefits all students and ensures adequate funding for students with disabilities—no matter what their needs are.

Our Solution
Our solution to Connecticut’s special education funding challenges is the development and implementation of a Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative (the Co-op). The Co-op is a special education finance system that allows the state and local governments to share in special education costs and keep decisions and delivery of special education services local. The Co-op is not intended to act as a cost control rather its purpose is to make special education costs predictable for districts and towns, allowing for better budget planning.

How the Co-op Works
Using a cooperative-type model, the Co-op makes special education costs predictable for districts and towns, allowing for better budget planning. The Co-op achieves this predictability by aggregating special education costs together at the state level to leverage the fact that, on a statewide basis, special education costs are predictable, even though they are frequently volatile at the district level.

How the Co-op Benefits Students
By creating predictability in special education costs, the Co-op benefits all students, whether they need special education services or not. All students benefit from the Co-op because it stabilizes general education funding and helps ensure districts don’t have to resort to dipping into their general education funding to pay for necessary special education services. Additionally, the predictability and stability created by the Co-op protects students with disabilities by ensuring adequate funding for special education services—even during financially uncertain times—and keeping decisions and delivery of those services local.

Special Education Cost Model Task Force
As part of the biennial state budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 (Conn. Acts 17-2 (June Special Session)), the Special Education Cost Model Task Force was established to conduct a feasibility study of the Co-op as well as other alternative models for funding special education that are used in other states. The 12-member task force was charged with submitting the study and any legislative recommendations to the Connecticut General Assembly's Education and Appropriations Committees.

In July 2019, the task force submitted its final report, which detailed the task force's findings and included the feasibility study reports, commissioned by the task force, examining different Co-op models. While the task force did not make any recommendations to the General Assembly in its final report, the task force did highlight the benefits and potential challenges of each model it investigated.

The full task force final report, along with meeting minutes and other documents from the task force, can be viewed by clicking the links below.

Final Report of the Special Education Cost Model Task Force (July 2019)

Task Force Meeting Minutes and Other Documents