DeKalb spending by school: A few surprises but special needs cost the most

In tandem with my prior entry on Bill Gates and per-pupil-spending in education being dramatically accelerated by special needs programming, check out the good work at DeKalb County School Watch, which has posted per pupil spending by school in the county.

While there are some oddities to DeKalb’s spending patterns, it’s apparent that three conditions impact education costs: children receiving special services and the intensity of those services, the number of low-income children, and the school size.

(Please note that the DeKalb school spending nearly $36,000 per student has 78 children with profound disabilities.)

Some of our most outrageously expensive programs are of course high needs special education (Margaret Harris spends $35,942.47 on average per pupil and Coralwood: $24,881.44 per pupil). But you may be surprised to learn that some of our alternative programs cost much more (Some examples: DeKalb Truancy: $45,292.61 per pupil, DeKalb Early College Academy: $14,410.78 per pupil, Elizabeth Andrews HS: $12,151.96 per pupil, DeKalb Alternative: $20,792.11 and DeKalb Alternative Night School: $18,958.90, DeKalb Transition: $20,265.86, Gateway to College Charter: $16,319.21).

The “regular” elementary schools is where the funding is all over the board. We spend anywhere from a low of $6,920.66 per pupil at Dunwoody Elementary to a high of $12,857.36 at Knollwood ES. Again, on the low end, we have Narvie Harris at $7,600.40 per pupil, Fernbank at $7,894.97 per pupil, Oak Grove at $7,930.98 per pupil and Vanderlyn at $7,954.17 per pupil. Over at the high end, we top off spending at Wadsworth where we spend $13,010.20 per pupil. Nipping at Wadsworth’s spending heels is Gresham Park at $12,804.60 per pupil, Huntley Hills at $12,275.73 per pupil, Bob Mathis at $12,207.36, Peachcrest at $11,872.83 and Sky Haven at $11,828.01 per pupil. (In case you’re wondering, Kittredge isn’t far behind at $11,001.34 per pupil.)

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

53 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 22nd, 2011
1:25 pm

Well, the “low”spending at Dunwoody Elementary makes sense – they only have 4th and 5th grade.

The Wadsworth Magnet ES school is off the chain ridiculous – there are only about 150 students at the school.

2 cents

March 22nd, 2011
1:26 pm

what are population ratios of schools listed?

Clueless

March 22nd, 2011
1:44 pm

Why don’t the elementary schools all get the same amount per pupil?

Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
1:50 pm

Maureen, when I read your last blog on Bill Gates, I knew this would be the perfect segue topic. You hit on the point why it is difficult for ANYONE to determine spending for schools. They use a very simplistic formula of dividing the budget by the number of students to determine the per pupil spending. In reality, we know that different amounts are spent for each child.

Do we really want to know what is spent for each child?

Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
1:51 pm

By ‘they’ above, I meant school districts. I also meant the formula tells us the ‘average’ per pupil spending.

Pluto

March 22nd, 2011
2:43 pm

At the risk of sounding crass and insensitive, I really have a problem with scarce resource allocations in this manner. In my humble opinion, the main streamimg of the special ed population is not working and parents are looking for any and all advantages to provide their children but at the end of the day these services will not be available to the individual once they leave the protective confines of the public school system. So why are we doing it?

catlady

March 22nd, 2011
3:06 pm

Many of the services provided for sped kids should be provided by their parents in the home setting, instead of at school. There are taxpayer-paid programs to help handicapped people with speech, OT, PT. It should be the parents arranging for and providing for the needs of their children, NOT in the school setting. At what point will be recognize that parents (with financial help from their insurance or Medicaid) should be providing for the needs of their children, be it food, medical help, or whatever. We err too far EVERY DAY in thinking the school has to do this or no one else would. Time for parents to be ushered back up to the plate!

the prof

March 22nd, 2011
3:19 pm

Quite frankly catlady, your comments are a bunch of garbage regardless of your experience and experiences.

Posterchild

March 22nd, 2011
3:24 pm

At the risk of sounding crass and insensitive, I agree with Pluto. (disclaimer: I have worked in education for the past decade, and grew up with a special-needs relative).

Private School parent right now

March 22nd, 2011
3:50 pm

My son is special needs and he received PT and OT services through school. However, that PT/OT only related to how he negotiated the school environment. Any PT/OT he needed that did not relate to a specific function at school was not addressed by the school PT/OT. He had medical PT and OT through our medical insurance which addressed all his needs.

I’m not sure that all special needs students should be mainstreamed. But there has to be some happy medium between dumping all kids in one room together, regardless of their issues, like they did when I was in school and putting kids who are a danger to others in a regular classroom setting. We do not need to go back to the days when anyone with special needs was isolated from society in general and hid away in homes or institutions so people could forget they exist.

SLP

March 22nd, 2011
3:51 pm

@ Catlady, I usually agree with a lot that you have to say but in the case…not so much. Based on your comment, I should work with gifted students, average students, and at risk students, but NOT mildly, moderately, and profoundly intellectually challanged students. Those of us in education should be the last people to discriminate based on intellectual functioning. I am happy to work with any student who qualifies for my help and am even happier when parents are able to arrange for additional Speech services outside of the school setting. For many of my students, every bit of Speech therapy they can get helps.

FBT

March 22nd, 2011
3:57 pm

Why are expenses so high for special needs students? Is it because they need more one on one care that has nothing to do with course work?
I know families who homeschool, yet send their special needs children to public school for a break from the care their child requires.
Overall, it is a very difficult subject in our politically correct world.

DeKalb Resident

March 22nd, 2011
4:35 pm

Maureen – Is this the total funding per student (local, state, and federal) or just the local county funding? If it is all levels it would be interesting to see how much comes from each level and how much each portion has increased over time.

Maureen Downey

March 22nd, 2011
4:42 pm

@DeKalb, I think that is all levels of funding. That said, local dollars are the largest portion of ed funding. In some districts, state money is only 20 percent now.
Maureen

Write Your Board Members

March 22nd, 2011
4:46 pm

High needs students often require one on one assistance during the day as well as trained medical care.

I have friends who work in health care who believe that the children coming down the pipe may very well bankrupt the public education system.

There are many, many babies surviving at birth today who would not have survived even 5 years ago.
Survival alone does not assure good quality of life.

Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2011
4:52 pm

Fact: Special needs ( special education) students receive approximatgely 60 per cent of education student funding. All other students receive the remaining 40 per cent. I agree that special needs has to be funded– but the extra money spent is not fair to the other students. I teach a 7th grader in a wheelchair. He is extremely bright and moves easily from his chair to a regular chair. He takes himself to the restroom. He talks and comminicates easily and completes his work saticfactorily. He uses his bottom locker like any other student. The only special help he needs is carrying his lunch tray. Yet he has a FULL TIME PARAPRO ASSIGNED TO HIM WHO FOLLOWS HIM FROM CLASS TO CLASS every day. She sits in the sand moves his wheel chair out of the way when he moves to his desk. He wheels his own chair to class. Yet taxpayers pay for a full time adult to WALK BEHIND HIM AND SIT IN CLASS WITH HIM EACH DAY. It is a total waste of money, yet he qualifies under the rules and his mother insists on it.

Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
5:29 pm

FBT, between 85-90% of school systems operational budgets are for wages and benefits. Special Needs students may require lower ’student-teacher’ ratios than the general population. For example, you may have 25-30 general population students in a class whereas for ’some’ special needs students, the ratio could be 1 to 1. Admittedly this is extreme but you may see this for students with physical handicaps. I’ve seen ratios of 12 students to 1 teacher for some ‘Behavioral Disorder/Learning Disorder’ students, including 1-2 para’s.

You may want to check section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of of the American with Disabilities Act for more information. In short, it prohibits recipients of federal funds from discriminating on the basis of disability. Many school systems have been sued because of lack of compliance to this law.

ABC

March 22nd, 2011
5:38 pm

Surprise, surprise. Once again the PC-ness of it all never ceases to amaze me. The speds get all the money, the average children get the pitiful rest and the smart gifted ones are left with the scraps. Nice going.

Education for All

March 22nd, 2011
6:15 pm

I am seeing comments like catlady’s on many blogs lately, whether addressing special ed expenditures or high levels of interventions in high poverty schools. They all tend to say that we have to demand parental involvement and action to improve our education system. My question is this, and I really would like to hear what people think. What do we do with parents who refuse?

I saw in the ajc how two parents just left their 2 year old at the park for 2 hours. That is clearly neglect and they were charged and the child removed from the home. But at what point do we set the threshold for educational neglect?

If a parent is absolutely a no-account who doesn’t even make sure a kid is fed and dressed and waiting for the bus on time, much less reading to them and promoting education, should the kids be removed? What if the school does not provide special ed for a severely handicapped child and their mom takes care of them by tying them to a chair? What if they get the kid to the bus but that’s all, knowing the school will feed them and provide care they do nothing else for the child? What if they do feed a child but don’t read to them and don’t help them with school or encourage homework? Where do we draw the line?

If we don’t remedy these situations, we are basically resigning the child and our society to another neglected/uneducated kid/poor performing school/high poverty cycle repeating. And if we do remove all children from educationally neglectful homes, then what? Where do we put them? What do we do?

This is really troubling me lately and I would like to hear others’ thoughts.

Dekalbite

March 22nd, 2011
6:20 pm

Much of DCSS’s funding disparities is due to the small schools with 300 or 400’students having a principal, counselor, AP, a couple of Instructional Coaches, secretary, bookkeeper, a couple of custodians, CTSS (technology worker), cafeteria workers, etc. In addition, these small schools may have less than 10 gifted students or only 2 or 3 ESOL students but these students must be served for 3 or 4 hours a week so they get a half day or 2 days a week certified teacher. They also have a dedicated PE teacher and often either a dedicated art or music teacher. Can you see how this adds up. Of course when they closed these small schools Tom Bowen, the BOE chairman, only had one reservation – that no jobs would be lost as a result – that was his main concern. So I don’t see the school closures netting classrooms and students the cost savings it should. Par for a BOE that has so many members with friends and family on the payroll – for example Tom Bowen, Eugene Walker (5 non-teaching family members alone), Sarah Copelin-Woods, and I’ve missed some no doubt.

Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
7:23 pm

You have a point DeKalbite however you must also acknowledge that since DeKalb has many Title 1 schools, that also causes some of the disparities. For instance, take a school like Vanderlyn that has a small Title 1 population. Their cafeteria runs at a loss because federal dollars are not helping to subsidize the cost to run it. Take a similar sized school such as McNair Academy that has a larger Title 1 population, it’s cafeteria probably runs a profit. More federal dollars is the reason.

The obvious difference with dollars between these schools is that Vanderlyn has more discretionary dollars (primarily through PTA) than McNair thus giving the appearance that more is spent on the school. The discretionary dollars do NOT play a part in calculating average funding per school however one cannot argue that it can make a significant difference in the education experience those children have. That’s what makes some of these discussions interesting, what goes in determining funding equity?

Deb

March 22nd, 2011
7:25 pm

I asked the head counselor at my school about the high cost of the special needs funding. She told me that the sped population has increased greatly because due to advancements in medical science. Many babies and young children who up until 20 years ago would have died at birth or shortly after birth are now more easily saved in hospitals. They survive but grow up with physical and learning disabilities and by law receive much more funding from state programs. She also said that Asberger Syndrome is seriously on the rise and nobody knows why. Some debate “mercury poisoning” but nobody really knows the cause. Many of the Asberger children are quite intelligent but have many social problems and receive a lot of help from sped teachers and para pros. The Asbergers gene is also passed on so when these children eventually grow up and have kids, they are supposedly more likely to produce an Asbergers child. On the one hand I don’t like the idea of people playing God and deciding who gets to live and who does not, or who can reproduce and who can not, BUT, it is a very heavy burden for taxpayers. Just sharing what I was told …

Toto

March 22nd, 2011
7:50 pm

Asperger’s Syndrome children have probably been exposed to toxins- by shots or environment. There is a high correlation with gut/digestive problems. This may be the inherited part that makes them vulnerable to the toxic exposure. They can’t get it out of their body. Jenny Mcarthy’s son actually recovered from it after extensive dietary/chelation intervention, aka detox. Let’s just say the truth is not allowed to be told.

So yeah, I think the taxpayers should pick up the tab. Also, the citizens have decided that there should be MANDATORY attendance/schooling FOR ALL. If you want that kind of power and privilege, then quit whining and pay for ALL the children. IF YOU DON’T WANT THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, then OVERTURN THE COMPULSORY SCHOOLING LAW. It’s that simple.
If you don’t want to pay for Big Pharma gone wrong, then don’t let the government dictate medical interventions.

GeeMac

March 22nd, 2011
8:02 pm

@Deb- My son has Asperger’s and has a 504 plan, which requires minimal accomodations from the school, such as copies of notes, graphic organizers, and quiet testing area. His father and my paternal uncle are undiagnosed, yet most likely fall on the autism spectrum, so yes, there may be a genetic component. My son is incredibly intelligent and is a favorite of his teachers due to his perceived maturity and his unfailing attention to the “rules.” As a 9th grader, his chief complaint is about students who chronically disrupt class. I am working to get him in Honor’s classes next year for this reason. The increased costs for special needs students stem more from those with profound physical and intellectual impairments, and we are required to serve them all.

GeeMac

March 22nd, 2011
8:09 pm

@Toto: Autism cannot be cured, any more than Down’s Syndrome, but with appropriate interventions and therapies, children who are on the spectrum can make progress and overcome some of their defiencies. I suggest you delve a bit deeper than Jenny McCarthy for your information.

Me too

March 22nd, 2011
8:10 pm

@ ABC – Gifted students actually earn more FTE (i.e. $$) than the “average children”

Me too

March 22nd, 2011
8:18 pm

@ Education for All – Well said! I share your concern but unfortunately do not have an answer. It is a terrible endless cycle these children find themselve a part of.

WideAwake

March 22nd, 2011
8:25 pm

So, when you bash the teachers for lack of providing a proper education then you read the story about “Parents Leave Kid in Park”; it tells you the story of educating students that have a home life like this. Quote: the 7 year old was watching her…..

Dekalbite@Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
8:27 pm

Vanderlyn’s PTA is at $81,000 for 800 students so that’s around $100 per child per year in PTA expenditures (not a lot of money in the general scheme of things – however, this is money that is closely monitored by the people who raise the money, the decision making is close to the cost center, and NO administration costs are associated with the expenditures so it is used very efficiently).
http://www.vanderlynpta.com/1/Annual_Fund.html

Vanderlyn has a inordinately large Gifted population so they receive a substantial amount of money for their Gifted population – enough to afford extra teachers since they have certified all of their teachers in gifted in order to collect those extra dollars. This results in lower class sizes and more “special” teachers like art, music, technology.

On the other hand look at the Title 1 per pupil alloted and then look at what the schools actually get per pupil in the schools:
Look at Dunaire Elementary. The chart on DeKalb Watch shows that this school has a Title 1 average of $927 per pupil. Look what filters down to the students at the local school level:
Per Pupil Amount (Average) $325
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&SchoolId=23029&T=1&FY=2010

Look at Peachcrest Elementary. The chart on DeKalb Watch shows that this school has a Title 1 average of $852 per pupil. Look what filters down to the students at the local school level:
Per Pupil Amount (Average) $325
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&SchoolId=23004&T=1&FY=2010

Multiply this 89 times (89 Title 1 schools) and you’ll see how much of the funding is being directed from the cost centers to the administrative end (over 60%).

Can you see how much Title 1 money gets siphoned off before it gets to the schools? This is a huge problem as so little of the funding is close to the actual cost centers (in this case the schools) that are supposed to produce the ROI?

teacher&mom

March 22nd, 2011
8:46 pm

Students with disabilities (usually those with moderate and profound needs) are also allowed to attend public school until the age of 21.

Anonymous

March 22nd, 2011
8:49 pm

@ Ernest, 7:23pm – Just want to get terminology right. Schools are either Title 1 or they are not. The threshold for declaring a school a Title 1 school is 60% in DeKalb. That means a school does not receive Title 1 funds unless 60% or more of their students receive free/reduced lunch. Vanderlyn may have a few students who receive free and reduced lunch but those students shouldn’t be called Title 1 students.

Title 1 funds are federal funds and the law says that Title 1 $$ must be used for schools with poverty above or equal to 35% or at schools that are at or above the average poverty level for the district.
Additionally, schools above 75% poverty must be served.

DeKalb determined the 60% threshold.

One of the unintended consequences of the NCLB transfers is that children who transfer from Title 1 schools do not take the Title 1 money with them. Receiving schools have a rising free and reduced lunch population but receive no $$ until they reach 60% FRL.

Jordan Kohanim

March 22nd, 2011
8:52 pm

As a sister of a profoundly autistic person and a teacher of many “learns-differently” children, I can tell you that a lot of that funding does not get spent the way it should. I’ve seen parents abuse the system (to get accommodations just for extra time on the SAT), and I have seen teachers handcuffed by a poor system that does little to support them or their students. Special Education teachers drown in unnecessary paperwork to account for every penny spent. The systems pile on more and more bureaucracy to avoid being sued under IDEA. I’m lucky in that, at my school, we have an amazing CBI program that fights hard to secure rights for their population.

That being said this article brings up an important point. The funding isn’t the problem–it is how poorly it is spent. Just as many have pointed out before, too much money is siphoned away from the classroom and into waste.

dogman

March 22nd, 2011
9:20 pm

catlady makes an excellent point. I have 3 “gifted” students that I would have no problem supplementing financially through the public schools – it’s a point I have harped on for years. Specials needs, ESOL, etc. should be no different.

We cannot continue to serve everyone though our public schools, that plus the vast differences in cultural learning – it is killing our schools. No wonder middle class America is dying off!

$1M?

March 22nd, 2011
9:26 pm

“Students with disabilities (usually those with moderate and profound needs) are also allowed to attend public school until the age of 21.”

Outdated laws should be changed to accomodate modern day realities.

Better yet pick one:

Student with Disabilies – OR – Illegal Immigrants

Who would you choose to serve?

Ernest

March 22nd, 2011
9:50 pm

@Anonymous, Thanks for the correction! I should make sure my terminology is correct.

I thought there was a provision in the Title 1 program for ‘targeted assistance’ services for selected children that meet a specified criteria. I know this applies to homeless children regardless of the school they attend.

Cere

March 22nd, 2011
9:58 pm

Thanks for sharing our data, Maureen. I have to say, even though we tried to ensure that we can’t know for certain how special services effect the per pupil cost, I am surprised that so many people have focused on special education. The data also shows that we spend just about as much per pupil for “at-risk” and “gifted” (magnet) students. We weren’t so much concerned with the fact that our system (as all) spends a lot of money on one end of the scale or the other, we were concerned that our school buildings are not spending money (allocating resources) consistently. You don’t really see this in Gwinnett. The large model helps to even out the costs. Many of the expensive schools and programs in DeKalb could be combined (eliminating redundancy in principals, APs, counselors, media specialists, custodians, cafeteria workers, etc.) and save literally millions — millions that could and should be directed to the students in the classrooms and teacher support.

For example, DSA (DeKalb School of the Arts) is host to under 300 students (8th-12th) and costs almost $14,000 per student. I have no issue with the DSA program, but I do think that we could meld it into an existing large-scale high school as a magnet program within the school, and save quite a bundle by sharing resources and administrators. Same with the alternatives – each of the following schools has it’s own building, principal and full staff, costing between $13,000 and $45,000 per pupil, yet most have barely 100 students: Destiny Academy, DeKalb Early College Academy, Gateway to College, Dekalb Truancy, DeKalb Transition, DeKalb Alternative and DeKalb Alternative Night School, along with Elizabeth Andrews, Kittredge, Wadsworth, and other “choice” or “alternative” schools, these schools could be more efficiently managed.

We just went through a redistricting exercise that was very painful, and pitted many neighbors against each other – all to save just about as much as consolidating resources in these many small programs could save. That was our main point. It wasn’t meant to be a discussion about special education. I have no issue with special education, as I have a child with learning disabilities and have used the services. And when it comes to severe disabilities, I simply pray for those parents every day. As a taxpayer, I am more than happy to support their heroic efforts to help their children become all that they can.

Not Buying It

March 22nd, 2011
10:18 pm

Agree with Cere. Why not house DECA with say a Clarkston? The DECA students go to GPC in 11th grade anyway. Furthermore, they would be right across the street for support from their “home school”. Education in the district should be consistent not vastly different from building to building.

ScienceTeacher671

March 22nd, 2011
10:19 pm

I’m pretty sure that ALL students can attend school until they are 21, and special needs students can stay even longer. Last year I had an 18 year old freshman, and 17 year old freshmen are not uncommon.

See the state rules at http://www.gadoe.org/_documents/doe/legalservices/160-4-7-.02.pdf

We have students who are functioning at the mental and physical level of 6 month old children – they can’t speak, can’t walk, can’t feed themselves, and can’t use the toilet. These students are in very small classes and several have dedicated para-pros. Their “education” is not cheap, but the courts say they are entitled to it.

My question is, how many of you who say these children have no business in the public schools also are convinced of the dignity of ALL life? How many of you feel that abortion is always wrong, and that Terri Schiavo should still be alive regardless of the medical costs involved? And do you see any contradiction in your beliefs?

Toto

March 23rd, 2011
12:14 am

@GeeMac
” I suggest you delve a bit deeper than Jenny McCarthy for your information.”
Believe me, I have. Up close and personal. This is why her experiences with her son and his “recovery” (not cure) ring true. Might I suggest that with home schooling, your child could have qualified for gifted level courses? My personal observation is that public or private school in the lower grades slows them down if they are asp. /gifted, which many are.

ABC

March 23rd, 2011
7:38 am

To ScienceTeacher: my answer to ALL your questions is, NO I do not. Despite my definite socialist tendencies, I have seen enough blatant abuse of govt resources that I am now leaning towards a survival of the fittest theory in most areas of life.

teacher&mom

March 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

@ST671: You are correct. All students can attend until the age of 21. However, schools will not receive FTE funds for regular education 5th year seniors. At that point, local funds are being used to educate the 19 & 20 year olds. Schools do receive funds for special education students through the age of 21.

Your questions hit home. I suspect for many readers the answer depends on whether or not you are personally impacted.

I personally don’t have an issue with severely handicapped students attending public school. I think our willingness to work with these students is a reflection of how our society values ALL individuals.

I just wish we would be more transparent with our funding and stop tying teachers hands with paperwork and documentation. Jordan K is absolutely correct in her statements.

Ernest

March 23rd, 2011
9:54 am

Dekalbite said,

Can you see how much Title 1 money gets siphoned off before it gets to the schools? This is a huge problem as so little of the funding is close to the actual cost centers (in this case the schools) that are supposed to produce the ROI?

I think this is were ‘we’ lack an understanding of how Title 1 monies are allocated. The government provides strict guidelines regarding the use of these funds. I bet most people don’t that Title 1 provides services for private school students. Parent resource centers are required to help with parent literacy and involvement. Are the right measures in place to determine program effectiveness? One would think you’d have to ask the federal government since they typically audit programs like this along with providing recommendations for improvement.

Education is big business. Unfortunately we are not relying on the ‘ground troops, i.e teachers’ to help us understand the strategies needed to help improve the outcomes for more children. Just putting business measures on education won’t get the desired results. Having politicians create laws that result in unintended consequences have really hurt the classroom.

TC

March 23rd, 2011
12:44 pm

There’s a girl in my neighborhood and she goes to public school everyday. She’s in a wheelchair, can’t feed herself (in fact is fed through a feeding tube), can’t talk, can’t walk, can’t do anything for herself. I’m sure she’s a perfectly sweet girl, but why is she in public school. As unfair as it is, she will never be able to contribute to society so I wonder why so much money is spent on her at a public school. I can’t say what I would do it if were my child, but it just doesn’t seem right to me.

Cere

March 23rd, 2011
1:31 pm

@ Ernest: “Just putting business measures on education won’t get the desired results. Having politicians create laws that result in unintended consequences have really hurt the classroom.”

That’s it in a nutshell my friend. We need to elevate the teaching profession, recruit the best and brightest, respect their abilities, support the good ones, weed the bad ones and let them do their jobs, as I find that most are pretty good at it.

ScienceTeacher671

March 23rd, 2011
9:14 pm

So, TC, what do you think about embryonic stem cell research? Are you pro-life, or pro-choice? Do you think Terri Schiavo was murdered or finally allowed to die naturally?

say what?

March 23rd, 2011
11:25 pm

DCSS returns MIllLIONs of dollars back to the state which then returns the money to the federal government. Poor vision and leadership at the local school level causes this return annually.

Port in a Storm

March 24th, 2011
10:15 am

Part of the problem is the required application of curriculum standards to students with severe learning disabilities. Teachers are literally having to grab the hands of students, point out marks on a globe, then indicate that the student could identify geography. Many of these students are low-functioning and their education should be about basic, independent life skills – feeding, clothing and cleaning themselves.

Momof2

March 24th, 2011
10:23 pm

The better you educate anyone the better they will produce and return some benefit to society and the less long-term cost. Some people need more help than others – I really don’t think there is any validity to some of the arguements I’ve seen today against spending for special needs students. Maybe the best way to consider the situation is the answer to “what would your opinion be if someone in your family needed some of this help?” I’d expect to see some very different opinions.

seabeau

March 25th, 2011
6:57 am

If we as a society have agreeded that a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy (abortion)due to any reason that she deems important,is it also reasonable to assume that we as a society should be able(permitted) to control in some extent which pregnancies would be allowed to come to full term? When abortion was first legalized, many nay-sayers pointed out that this abortion decision would be the real start in the beginnings of a long slippery slope in which society would and could decide on the validity of human life.

Nicole Terrell

March 25th, 2011
9:34 am

Wow, reading this two days later, with all the comments, I must say I am surprised by the reaction.

To catlady, you are incorrect in stating there are “other” programs available to profound special needs kids. We, as a nation, decided a while back that the most appropriate place for ALL children is in the public school system. If you do some research, you’ll find that programs for assistance for the disabled start after a child leaves the school system.

I am the mother of a severely handicapped son in Clayton Co. schools. He’s is 12, but functions on the level of a typical 5 month old. He is wheelchair bound, doesn’t talk, needs diapers and is tube fed for 100% of his nutrition. These aren’t statements to elicit sympathy from anyone, they’re the facts. As a parent of one of these kids, I am particularly familiar with having to leave the warm & fuzzy behind and deal with the hard cold facts of daily life.

As a society, WE have decided that severe/profoundly disabled children deserve the opportunity to benefit from public education. That same opportunity is provided for every other child without question. We know our school system is broken, but taking the information that Maureen provided and turning that into a discussion of why special needs kids shouldn’t receive the services that they need isn’t the answer.

It’s an easy out to take these numbers and bicker about why one (unproductive even!) category uses up so much of “our money”. But take it a few steps farther and ask yourself, with all the money that is spent on education, why can’t individual schools, counties, and even states as a whole be held accountable for such wide disparities in spending?

As a parent, I have been in my son’s school as much or even more often than most parents in my county. I have seen gross misuse of funds myself without spending more than an hour in my son’s class. We’ve all heard it. One bad apple ruins the barrel? There are alot of bad apples in regular ed AND special ed, but no one has suggested that any typical ed students be denied services if they demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to learn or follow the rules.

Another euphemism? Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water? Know anyone that you suspect is receiving gov’t benefits that aren’t quite legit?? Or is receiving benefits for unemployment for a couple of YEARS now and haven’t made one effort towards finding a job? Or better yet….have you ever seen a neighbor that you know very well taking advantage of local church food banks when they have no need for assistance? We all see these examples of bad apples, but no one suggests that the programs themselves be ditched, b/c in the end, we know that those programs WILL reach some of those that are truly in need.

To the poster that reported the wheel chair bound student with a para pro following him around all day: Some one, at some point dropped the ball on that one. The fact that someone allowed that to happen does not mean that kid shouldn’t be included in the pool of students that can request assistance. Hopefully, someone in the future will reevaluate that arrangement and make it right. But in the meantime, don’t resent EVERY “sped” kid for one inappropriate situation.

A famous quote states something like: The measure of a society can be taken by how it treats it’s most vulnerable citizens. Or maybe some of you should google “Eugenics” and decide which side of the debate you’re truly on.