[Note: Since this posting was made, kind readers have researched the numbers published in the Eagle Tribune and which I relied on in this post. The district budget number for Haverhill is incorrect and the per pupil number is also incorrect – both are considerably larger. Please see the comments to this blog. Nevertheless, the point about both districts’ special education budgets stands.]
Haverhill has more than double the number of special education students in Timberlane, but both school districts have nearly identical special education budgets.
The Sunday (May 3) edition of the Eagle Tribune quotes Superintendent James Scully as calling for a study of his own special education program – because it is costing too much.
In an article entitled, “Special ed hikes hurt schools,” the superintendent was quoted as saying,”We’ve asked for a study on how we can provide more special education services in-house in a more efficient manner.” He went on to say, “We’ll also have to question whether children are being identified correctly in terms of special education needs.”
Here we have a superintendent calling for an audit of his own special education services. When I ask for a discussion of something similar at Timberlane, I am told there is nothing that an auditor could find that the special education director couldn’t tell me. Then when I ask for some very reasonable basic information, Dr. Metzler says he’ll figure out which of my questions he’ll answer. I’m waiting….
Haverhill’s overall average cost per pupil is $9,000*. Timberlane’s: $15,500.
Haverhill’s total budget is 67.8 million – very close to Timberlane’s ($67.3). Haverhill teaches 7,240 students while Timberlane educates 3,773.
Timberlane has half the students…. but virtually the same budget! It gets even more eye-opening when we compare special education numbers.
Haverhill’s special education budget is $9.1 million. Timberlane’s special education budget is $8.8 million – nearly the same.
Haverhill has 1567 children in special education this year. Timberlane had 735 (ADM) last year (most recent figures available) – less than half the number that Haverhill teaches, with virtually the same special education budget. Nothing to see here folks.
Haverhill’s superintendent is calling for a study because of high special education costs while Timberlane, with fewer than half the children in special education than Haverhill but with almost the identical budget, wants to keep its workings to itself and your school board thinks that is just fine. More money, please and thank you. That’s all we hear.
I called Haverhill School District to learn what their $9.1 million includes to compare it to Timberlane’s $8.8. If and when I get that information, I will do a subsequent posting should their budget include significant differences from our budget.
For the record, special education services are vitally important. I am not out to destroy needed services. I simply want to point out that our resources are generous and ample to do a good job, and to find out why special education services are increasing while our student population declines.
* All figures concerning Haverhill School District come from the Eagle Tribune’s reporting except for their total number of SPED students, which came from Haverhill School District’s website. http://www.eagletribune.com/news/haverhill/special-ed-cost-hikes-hurt-haverhill-schools/article_41a41efc-5c78-5719-9ac0-b2ea98a12af4.html