From the Morning Memo:

It’s still unclear how much funding the Buffalo Public School District stands to lose for special education services, should the U.S. Senate pass the American Health Care Act approved last week by the House without significant changes.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a restructuring of the Medicaid program would decrease direct federal spending by about $880 billion over the next decade, but the latest version of the House bill has not yet been formally scored.

Districts across the state and country are reimbursed for some services for students with disabilities through the program. When we reached out last week to find how much exactly that amount is in Buffalo, the district referred us to Kinney Management, the vendor that processes its reimbursements.

Kinney indicated yesterday afternoon that it was working to answer our questions. In the meantime, the president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation was willing to take a guess.

“It could cost hundreds of thousands,” Phil Rumore said. “It could cost $1 million and the worst part about it is that, aside from costing the money, it’s going to cost the kids the services that they need.”

“We’re supposed to care about people. We’re supposed to care about kids. When you cut back funding for these programs, who are you hurting?”

Rumore said the cash-strapped district already struggles to afford services for students with special needs.

He noted that when the federal government passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act more than 40 years ago, it committed to help districts cover a third of the cost. But in recent years, he said, a disproportionate burden has fallen on districts like Buffalo.

“These services are expensive,” Rumore said. “You have a child that has been diagnosed, that has to be in a class with six other students, a teacher and an aide. That’s expensive but the kids need the help.”

The BTF president said he’s not sure yet how worried he should be about the AHCA. While he’s no fan of the bill, he expects the Senate to make major changes to the legislation – if it even passes at all.

“I would expect none of our senators would vote for the (American Health Care Act), Rumore said. “As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to that bill that the house passed, it’s a disgrace.”