Unfunded Mandate Exhibit A

While local taxpayers bear most of the burden for funding our local schools, many of the costs are imposed by lawmakers in Harrisburg and Washington (see Yes! I’m a Patsy for more on this).

Last night’s school board meeting provided a small, but important, example: One of the items on the agenda was a contract to pay $3,800 to evaluate the speech and language development needs of a single student.

When a parent disagrees with the district evaluation of a student’s special needs,  Director of Special Education Dr. Pekarik explained, federal law requires the district pay for an additional, outside, evaluation by someone agreed upon by both the district and the parents.   And these second opinions cost thousands of dollars each.

To me, the main issue here is not whether or not this is a good use of public funds (it seems like an awful lot of money for the services listed in the contract, but I recognize I don’t have knowledge or experience in this area).  The main issue is that the elected officials who make such rules should also be the officials who pay for implementing them.

This one contract alone won’t break East Penn’s budget.  But it’s a very concrete example of the sea of mandated costs that must be met by our community each year.

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