Action Needed – Senate Bill 16 – Opposed unless amended

ACTION Needed: Please contact your State Representative as
your current one will vote as late as January (NOT a new State
Representative that may be elected in November). Senate Bill 16
unexpectedly passed the Illinois State Senate, and could be amended
in the Illinois House and the amended bill could be voted on by
the Senate ALL IN ONE DAY.

Please ask your State Representative, “Will you oppose Senate Bill 16,
and assure me you will vote NO unless and until it is amended
to remove the special education Block Grant and restore Special
Education Personnel Reimbursement?”

Please explain to your State Representative’s secretary (if you are unable to speak directly with your Representative) what Special Education Personnel Reimbursement is, why it is important, and how the 13.8 percent cap now in SB 16 will directly harm students, parents, and teachers (see below).

SENATE BILL 16                                                          

Senate Bill 16 would completely change how Illinois funds local schools. The bill has passed the Illinois State Senate, and is now being considered in closed meetings by the top Democratic members of the Illinois House of Representatives.

The Board of the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) of Illinois on Saturday, September 13th, voted unanimously to OPPOSE Senate Bill 16 as now written.

Bev Johns, president of LDA of Illinois, states, “Senate Bill 16 would directly harm students with disabilities and their parents. Illinois has a proud history in special education. Senate Bill 16 would tarnish all we have done in the past.”

The members of LDA are largely parents of students with learning disabilities (LD), dyslexia and related disabilities. Membership also includes college professors, and special ed teachers.

LDA of Illinois opposes Senate Bill 16 because it would completely eliminate special ed Personnel Reimbursement which provides local school districts $9,000 for each special ed teacher, each school psychologist, each school social worker, etc. that works directly with students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

SB 16 would replace special ed Personnel Reimbursement, and certain other special education funding, with a block grant limited to 13.8 percent of a local school districts’ students. If a school district identifies more than 13.8 percent of its students as needing special education because of high poverty and/or because of a school district’s sincere attempt to identify every child with a disability, the school district would receive zero State dollars for each student in special education that exceeds 13.8 percent of its student population.

LDA of Illinois opposes this 13.8 percent limit because it is arbitrary and will actively discourage local school districts from identifying students for special education.

Some claim that the 13.8 percent limit will prevent local school districts from over-identifying students. It has been the experience of LDA of Illinois all over the State that local school districts do not identify more students so they can receive $9,000 (1/3 to 1/10 of a special ed teacher’s salary) as identifying students gives parents and students all the legal rights in Illinois law and in the federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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