Special Education Numbers on the Rise in Oregon

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, April 4 2012 at 6:31 PM, Updated: Wed, April 4 2012 at 6:52 PM

Classrooms across our state are seeing more special needs students walk through the door.

"The overall trend is an increasing population," said Brock Rowley, Director of Special Education for the Central Point School District.

The Oregon Department of Education says almost 85,000 students are in special education programs. That's up about 1000 students from last year.

"The state's average is 13.3% of the total population receiving special education services, ours is about 13.8 so we're above the state average," explained Rowley.

But according to Rowley, the battle is with school funding.

"If you have an increasing population and your funding is decreasing or remains fairly flat, then there's less resources for more students," he said.

While the district does receive more money from the government for each special ed student, those extra dollars don't cover all students with special needs.

"Currently 13.8% of our population receives special education services. Only 11% of that population is funded, so we have a percentage of our students that aren't funded by the same rate," Rowley said.

Kids with Autism in the district have also been on the rise.

In fact according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, Autism diagnoses were up 20% in the United States.

Officials at the Phoenix-Talent School District said they're seeing the same trend: more special ed students and more students with Autism. They said the increasing numbers could be a result of more awareness and more recognition of disorders like Autism.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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