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Audit suggests N.M. special ed funding overhaul

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SANTA FE (AP) — Legislative auditors are recommending New Mexico revamp special education financing because the current system creates incentives for schools to gain more funding by identifying students for greater services.

About $500 million is spent annually on special education, but a report issued Wednesday by Legislative Finance Committee staff said schools are penalized if they find less costly ways of helping students.

The state provides aid based on a school’s determination of the services required for students with disabilities, with more money for those with greater needs.

The report recommends basing special education aid on a school’s total enrollment.

Auditors said if funding was based on a national average of special education students, about 15 school districts would lose money, including $8 million for Albuquerque, and aid would increase for 26 districts.

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