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Federal Tightfistedness Damages Our Schools

June 23, 2004

"Strapped School Districts Surge" (June 18) fails to mention a major educational cost that confronts all districts: the rapidly escalating bill to educate a growing number of disabled children. The federal government long ago committed to pay its fair share of special education that it mandated but has never done so. The reality is that districts like Capistrano Unified must now spend $19 million a year beyond what the federal government provides for disabled students, shrinking the remaining funding available for all other services.

Without the promised federal assistance to cover special education costs, the number of school districts in financial trouble could grow exponentially during the next several years. This specter looms at every superintendents' meeting around the state. The best management in the world cannot indefinitely cope with budget red ink caused by inadequate special education funding.

James A. Fleming

Superintendent, Capistrano

Unified School District

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