Funding conundrum for disabled students after six years

WCPS trustees consider challenged with funding for children with special needs.

Parents of children with severe delays or disabilities have to deal with large discrepancies in funding for education once their children reaches six years of age.

In addition to Base Instruction Funding provided to education authorities, additional money goes to the authorities for the children with these special needs, which is called Program Unit Funding (PUF).

This money helps students from two and half years old to children less than six-years-old with Sept. 1 being the age cutoff date.

Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) trustee Barb Walker told trustees Thursday, Sept. 17 during the regular board meeting that she had spoken with a parent whose child turned six on Sept. 2. She asked if there was something the board could do to advocate for a more lenient cutoff date.

Secretery-treasurer Joe Henderson said the disparity between PUF and the base instruction funding is quite large and can be a shock to parents. He likened to the difference as going from having a Cadillac to buying a Chevette.

The Alberta School Boards Association has advocated this issue before, added trustee Lorrie Jess, but she feels there is little that can be done to change the strict deadline for funding.

Superintendent Larry Jacobs suggested there board could advocate for some transition funding to help children ease into a different level of support at school.

“All of a sudden, you lose all of those resources overnight,” explained Jacobs.

 

No decision was made except to speak with the school boards association on the issue.