Publication Date


Place of Publication

University of Maine, Orono

Document Type



This paper provides policymakers with objective information about trends in special education enrollment and funding as they strive to provide equitable educational programs for all Maine students. It will contrast Maine with the nation and Maine school districts with each other. This paper is divided into two parts.

Part I provides some basic information about the provision of special education in Maine. It describes the process by which school administrative units make the critical determination of eligibility for special education services and the types of services provided. It compares Maine and national trends in the prevalence of students with disabilities, it examines the variance in prevalence, and it identifies factors that influence this variance. Finally, Part I summarizes the impact of variable local practices in special education.

Part II extends this discussion to special education funding. As Maine reforms school funding based on the essential programs and services needed to help students achieve the Learning Results rather than on historical costs, changes in special education funding are necessary. Part II explains Maine’s current percentage reimbursement model. It examines special education funding trends over the past decade and how this has impacted general education. The paper concludes with a recommendation for program and finance reform in special education and with suggestions for achieving these goals.


White Paper