Districts spent $2.2 billion on special education last year, up 26 percent in a decade.
More than 141,000 students receive services for things like physical impairments, learning disabilities and behavioral issues. About 16 percent of Minnesota students received services last year, an increase of 1.3 percentage points in a decade.
Schools complain that the state mandates certain costs without covering them. Districts are billed for special education students who live in the area, even if they attend a charter school or go to another school district.
Some districts have begun sharing resources and services in an attempt to reduce costs.
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The rising cost of special education in Minnesota is contributing to a dispute over emergency funding for schools during the last full week of the legislative session.