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April 10, 2023

Bills to Boost Special Education Funding and Improve Student Outcomes Pass Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Education Committee today unanimously passed legislation to increase special education funding and reduce language barriers for special education learning plans. Both bills passed by a vote of 10-0.

“I’m proud to bring this legislation forward to significantly boost funding for special education in Colorado,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, sponsor of SB23-099. “Special education students need additional services to help them learn and thrive. This bill provides additional funding for Colorado's neediest students. Providing more adequate funding for special education students helps all Colorado students."

SB23-099, also sponsored by Rep. Lisa Frizell, increases funding by over $40 million for special education services for public schools, including charter schools, to better support students’ needs. Increased per pupil funding from this bill, will help lower student-teacher ratios, reduce class sizes and help provide more tailored assistance to students. Per pupil special education funding includes funding for students with at least one disability who need significant support in school. In FY19-20, funding was around $2,849 per student and decreased to $2,629 per student for FY20-21. This bill increases per pupil special education funding to $6,000 per student to improve education services to special education students.

“English proficiency should not stand in the way of a parent and guardian’s ability to understand their child’s special education learning plan,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of HB23-1263. “Parents and guardians are invested in their child’s success in school, but language restrictions often prevent them from understanding the details of their child’s schooling. We’re supporting local school districts to translate draft individualized education programs so parents and guardians can be hands-on in understanding their child’s individualized education plan, no matter what language is spoken at home.”

“Parents' input is crucial in determining whether their children are eligible for special education services,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, sponsor of HB23-1263. “This bill is another step in eliminating language barriers and promoting equity by ensuring that parents whose primary language spoken in the home is a language other than English have early and accessible opportunities to participate in decisions related to their children’s special education eligibility.”

Under current Colorado law, every public school student that qualifies for and receives special education services must have an individualized education program (IEP). The IEP is catered to each individual student and aims to improve their educational results and ability to learn in the classroom. HB23-1263 would require the IEP, the draft IEP, and any other related documents to be translated to the primary language spoken at the students’ home as necessary.

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