Friday, November 2, 2007
CCHS encounters unexpected SPED costs
Concord-Carlisle High School has an unanticipated increase of $800-850,000 in tuitions for special education out-of-district placements this school year. Tim Hult reported the increase to Selectmen as part of his FinTeam liaison report.
The high school became aware of the new out-of-district placements well after the FY08 budget was finalized earlier this year, according to Concord and CCHS School Finance Director John Flaherty.
Carlisle splits the cost of the entire CCHS budget, including special education costs, through an assessment based on the number of students from Carlisle who attend the high school. Carlisle's assessment in the current FY08 is 28.01 percent of the CCHS budget.
Special education out-of-district tuitions at the high school, which include both day and residential tuitions, currently range from $30,000 to $100,000 and up per year, per pupil.
Tuition rates are reviewed by the Department of Education annually.
The high school's adopted total FY08 budget is $20,365,000. Concord will pay $12,667,000 of the budget, while Carlisle will pay $4,929,000. The balance of the $20 million budget is paid by state aid and reimbursements, and district reimbursements.
The $800-850,000 in unanticipated tuitions is for about 10 students. The number of students varies as students move into or out of Concord and Carlisle. Some students can continue under the high school special education budget until age 22 if the student is enrolled in a program with a graduation diploma, according to Flaherty.
This year, the high school received $858,000 in circuit-breaker reimburse-ment from the state for high special education costs incurred during the last fiscal year. Circuit-breaker funds are available from the state to help pay high special education costs for individual students that exceed an amount set by the state, known as the foundation budget.
School districts can apply for reimbursements for students whose special education expenses are greater than the statewide foundation budget, which was $31,616 in FY06, the most current year available. For example, in FY06 expenses for a single student would have to exceed $31,616 a year for state-circuit breaker funds to apply. The school district must pay the foundation budget amount, $31,616. The state then pays for 75% of the cost above the foundation budget amount.
Flaherty said the regional school district will apply to the state this year for extraordinary relief, an additional provision the state has for school districts that experience a sudden increase in special education costs. The school will not know the outcome of the relief application until next March, he said. The state relief fund is allocated a limited amount each year in the state budget and not all districts will receive reimbursement. This is the first time CCHS has applied to the state for reimbursement under the extraordinary relief provision.
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