Special Education Breakthrough in FY 2017 House Budget

Boston, April 27, 2016 – State Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) successfully secured the inclusion of an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) House budget with language that would establish a commission to investigate and study the education services being provided to students with low-incidence disabilities, including autism, blindness, deafness, neurological impairment, and other rare disabilities that affect learning.

Representative Benson first filed this language during the 2009-2010 Legislative Session as a result of her experience as Chair of the Lunenburg School Committee.

“Having seen firsthand, small town school districts and families struggling to cope with the unpredictable costs and obstacles associated with individuals with low-incidence disabilities, I’ve been working to get this commission established for 7 years,” said Representative Benson. “Getting this language into the House budget is a triumph for school districts, families, and children affected by low-incidence disabilities.”

The commission would be tasked with reviewing available data concerning students with low-incidence disabilities, evaluating the quality of current special education programs for these students, identifying best practices for providing high quality services, and determining challenges and opportunities for ensuring coherent, appropriate, and cost-effective special education services. The commission would file a report of its investigation and recommendations within 2 years.

The language, as Amendment number 802, was included in Education and Local Aid consolidated Amendment A. Amendment A passed the House unanimously on Monday.

The Senate will take up the budget next.