SPED Questions

Click to download this page (As a Word Document)

What is driving the 21% increase in Special Education (SPED) costs?

Category Actual FY 07 Adopted Budget FY 08 SC Approved Budget FY 09 $$ Increase % change
SPED Instructional Salaries (teachers and teaching assistants)* $3,229,799 $3,535,402 $4,521,671 $986,269 27.9% 

 

SPED Contracted Services $362,254 $322,569 $341,487 $18,918 5.9% 

 

SPED Transportation for Out-of-District $370,856 $435,638 $376,630 -$59,008 -13.5%
SPED Tuition for Out-of-District Placements $1,295,973 $1,359,502 $1,579,840 $220,338 16.2%
 

$5,258,882

 

$5,653,111

 

$6,819,628

 

$1,116,517

 

21%

 

  • The increase of $1,116,517 has three integral components: (1) positions and services added for individual education plans and Department of Education compliance ($387,022), (2) grade 4-5-6 intensive reading and writing program ($255,700), and (3) program and service increases for current special education students from FY 08 to FY 09 ($473,795).
  •  

Special Education Statistics Projected FY 09 FY 08
# Students requiring special education services/total enrollment 372/2097 353/2121
# Students requiring out-of-district placements 36 32
# Special education professional staff (teachers) 48.9 40.8
# Special education teaching assistants 50.8 49.8
Projected cost saving for newly implemented in-house programs $197,000 $251,294

 

  • Special education teachers and teaching assistants are being added to achieve and/or maintain compliance ($387,022) and to develop cost-saving programs that are less expensive that out-of-district tuition and transportation ($255,700). If the intensive reading/writing program was not being implemented, the District anticipates a minimum of 5 additional out-of-district placements and related transportation costs totaling approximately $2,231,470 instead of $1,956,470. In addition two in-house programs implemented in FY 08 (primary intensive special needs and high school alternative program) will continue to grow and realize savings totaling approximately $650,599.

The number of students requiring special education services is increasing every year.

  • FY 07 = 347 students; FY 08 = 353 students, FY 09 = 372 students (projected)
  • The percentage of students requiring special education services in HW are:
    • FY 07 = 13.7%;
    • FY 08 = 15.6%
    • and projected for FY 09 is 16.9% – an increase of 1.3% over FY 08.

Out-of-district program tuition and transportation expenses are increasing.

  • Out of district placements have increased as follows: FY 07 – 29 students; FY 08 – 32 students; and projected for FY 09 – 36 students.
  • Costs are rising due to parent requests for out-of-district placements as well as parent unilateral placements which result in litigation and/or costly legal settlements
  • In Massachusetts the cumulative increase for out-of-district transportation costs from 1995 -2005 was 106% versus 66.9% for regular transportation for the same years.

Why are there more and more students requiring SPED services?

  • More children are surviving due to medical intervention
  • The number of children diagnosed with autism has increased exponentially, with a national average of 1:150. The number of Hamilton-Wenham students with autism is triple the national average at the elementary level, and double at the middle school level. Students with autism frequently require extensive services in communication, social pragmatics, motor skill development, and behavioral therapies.
  • The number of children with moderate to severe disabilities in early intervention programs and preschool in MA increased by 197% from 1992-2006
  • The number of children in early intervention for Hamilton-Wenham has tripled since 2001.
  • In an effort to address this need, the District has implemented a specialized program for preschool and kindergarten children with intensive needs. A total of eight children will receive services in the program as of September 2008. While this program is responsible for increased costs, these students’ programs would cost at least $293,000 more in 08-09 if the same students were been placed out of district.
  • The Department of Education audits special education and civil rights compliance through a Coordinated Program Review every 6 years. The results of our review were released in August 2007 and required the District to reach compliance in 24 program areas within one calendar year. This represents $387,022 in increased staffing to address compliance in several of those areas.

Are our SPED administrative costs too high?

  • The district employs one special education administrator and a part-time (2 days per week) out-of-district and preschool coordinator which is typical for a school district of our size.

Are students being classified as special needs excessively and/or unnecessarily?

  • The District follows a very specific and regulated process for determining eligibility and only those who meet the requirements are provided services. HW’s SPED placements are comparable to other school districts in our area (see chart below).

How do our SPED and out of district placements compare to other districts?

Member District Students with IEPs Rank % of Out-of-District Rank
  1. Beverly
24% 16 10.6% 13
  1. Danvers
15.6% 5 10.8% 14
  1. Gloucester
22% 15 8.6% 9
  1. Hamilton-Wenham
17% 9 8.6% 8
  1. Lynn
15.5% 4 6.6% 3
  1. Lynnfield
12.3% 1 8.9% 10
  1. Manchester-Essex
17% 10 12% 16
  1. Marblehead
16.4% 8 2.7% 1
  1. Masconomet (Gr. 7-12)
13% 3 11.7% 15
  1. Nahant (PK-8)
12.7% 2 8% 4
  1. North Reading
15.7% 6 10% 11
  1. Peabody
19.3% 14 8.3% 6
  1. Reading
17.8% 11 8.4% 7
  1. Rockport
17.8% 12 12.3% 17
  1. Salem
25% 17 10.4% 12
  1. Swampscott
15.9% 7 8% 5
  1. Tri-Town Elem. Union (PK-6)
18.2% 13 3.9% 2

Prepared 4/10/08

Comments are closed.