Second, that's interesting. Why did the school close and move to Mass?
Clarification, it didn't move. My town had to find an alternative since the school we sent special needs students to closed and the only alternative school offering the education they needed was in MA.
In the budget meeting we didn't get into why it closed, however they did point out it closed in Nov mid way through a school year which I though was odd. You'd think they would have waited for the end of the year.
Third, do you think funding is the biggest issue with special education in NH? Do you like how special education is addressed in NH?
In my opinion, yes funding is a huge problem. I'm not sure if it's limited to NH or if its a country wide issue.
The problem I see from a budget perspective is special needs students carry a huge financial burden. Since federal guidelines require "education" for all students, even a child with no brain activity who's education consists of a nurse rubbing their back a hour a day still falls onto the school district to provide care. I'm not in the largest town in NH but yet we have 3 students who's needs are so great that they alone add up to over $1 million in care. The state average right now for coded students is around 15.5% and every single one of them carries added costs that a huge portion falls on the local towns.
This creates a double edge sword problem... one side you don't want to leave the students who need it most high and dry without the care they need but on the other side if you do too good a job, your town becomes a magnet for other families with special needs which blows the taxes away making it unaffordable to live there.
I wrote up some of the details a while back in an article found here:http://www.nhinsider.com/richard-barnes/2008/2/6/double-edge-sword-of-special-education.html
I'm sure the numbers have since changed but at the time the federal government gave $1,300 per special ed child. That's it... no more. So if that student is one of the ones with higher needs with costs over $300,000, the federal government covers just $1,300 yet they put many mandates on towns forcing their hand.
And at the time the state only started paying after the cost hit $35,000. And of the costs over $35,000 they cover 80%.
So do the math with me... students cost is $100,000.
Town will get $1,300 from the federal government
State covers $52,000
That means the town is left paying the bill of $46,700 through local property taxes. Depending on the size of the town that can carry a huge burden on a small group of people.