After reporting on Dennis-Yarmouth Regional Schools’ special education funding travails, we decided to look at another Cape school district’s special ed costs.
The most transparent budget documents we found online are published by schools in the Nauset Region, which shows each building’s proposed budget and shows how much of the bottom line is spent on special education. Monomoy Regional Schools publishes a district-wide budget but not a school-by-school breakdown like Nauset. Other districts’ websites do not provide a detailed breakdown of regular day versus special education costs.
All Nauset proposed budgets can be viewed here.
Assuming these numbers are representative of other Cape area school districts, it is fair to say that elementary special education costs comprise nearly one third of their budget.
The only control a school district has over special education costs is in the determination of which students receive which services. This can be hotly contested by parents, child advocates and the attorneys they hire. Since many of these services are mandated by state law, schools are often forced to fund these services to the detriment of regular education funding.
As evidenced by recent events in the Dennis-Yarmouth region, when enrollment drops and funds become scarce, special education spending draws more attention from school administrators and taxpayers.