Wisconsin’s Special Education Funding Crunch: How State Underfunding Disproportionately Harms Students in High-Poverty Districts

October 2022
This report examines how the lack of state support for special education impacts the funding available to educate children in Wisconsin school districts. After state and federal special education funds are accounted for, districts must cover an additional $1.25 billion in special education costs statewide. Districts that are underfunded for special edu­cation must redirect money from general funds, leading to fewer resources for all students, not just students with disabilities. The unfunded special education costs are much greater in Wisconsin’s high-poverty districts, requiring them to pull more funding away from general education resources. To address this underfunding, the state must raise the reimbursement rate for special education costs well above the current 30%.

District-level Special Education Funding Data

View the impact of Wisconsin’s underfunding of special education at the district level through an interactive state map. Compare special education funding between two districts and model hypothetical reimbursement rates.