Must Read Journal News Article on the Cost of Special Education

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Must Read Journal News Article on the Cost of Special Education

June 20, 2012 - 00:23

Randi Weiner and Cathey O’Donnell of the Journal News have a comprehensive article on the issue of Special Education, State Mandates and the cost to local school districts.

Schools risk soaring special-education costs under state's tougher diploma rules

The article covers a lot of ground and contains quotes from New Rochelle Director of Special Education Yvette Goorevitch and New Rochelle Board Member Naomi Brickell.

The basic point is that Special Education has been getting increasingly expensive due to federal and state mandates and will become more so due the decision to eliminate the local diploma option in New York State.

Schools and districts that fail to reach four-year graduation targets for special-needs students are required to create new programs, increase tutoring, hire outside consultants and do more teacher training — all actions that cost money. Those dollars are on top of the cost of educating a special-needs child, already about three times what a general-education student costs.

The two quotes from local school officials:

“My colleagues and I have been struggling with this,” said Yvette Goorevitch, director of special and alternative education for New Rochelle schools. “It becomes very dangerous to have a system where the most vulnerable students are being pitted against any other group for competing funds. I do fear there are communities that will (be faced with) taking from one to fund the other. It’s a concern statewide. I have to say that we’re looking for some mandate relief here.”


Naomi Brickle, director of Hudson Valley Special Education Parent Center, a New Rochelle school board member and the parent of a special-needs child, agreed with the state Board of Regents that the current safety nets are too lax.

“I think that the (local diplomas) represent an extremely low standard and, quite frankly, (are) a leftover,” she said. “As a parent, it feels to me a bit second class. I look at a high standard for students with disabilities.”

Read the entire article here.

There are 2 Comments

After reading her quote, I take it Naomi didn't suggest the district cut spending on anything this year?

When will the taxpayers of NR wake up & smell the coffee? These liberals that control everything are slowly bleeding us dry while our property values sink into the abyss. The perfect storm of fiscal mismanagement!

The point made by Fifth Avenue Guy is correct. There is no secret that it is very difficult to find any municipal or district budget that is not under severe stress from the times we live in.

It is also true that our School District as well as our City Administration do not address financial management with exceptional skill or dedication. School Districts still must learn to accept mandates and reduced federal or state funding as a fact of life today and prepare alternative funding strategies. In addition, they must address clear issues around failure to negotiation aggressively with unions as well as looking for the many dollars available to them if they take a professionial view at what they are mandating; high salaries for the management team, excessive exampt or staff numbers. No classroom need suffer.

Of course unfunded mandates should be addressed in Albany, but the local taxpayer is the one bearing the burden.

As far as children with special needs, the classification of such children requires a hard look given the relative laxity of defining what is a special need.

We also should have high expectations for all children based on ability to learn and if some youngsters require asistive devices, or aid, then that surely is a priority.

As far as the City is concerned, separate postings are forthcoming and have been issued by many TOTS readers. It is suffice to say that the skills level and the self seeking levels are comparable with the possible exception that the school district seems to be picking up the pace somewhat quicker than our city fathers.

But come on.... our friend Fifth Avenue Guy correctly cites the taxpayer, the diminishing and weary source of most of the City funding. I would say, and he might agree, that a vibrant school district ranks up there with a growing business district in attracting investment and high net worth residents.

But for some reason known only to the voices in their heads, the school district and City administration does not recognize the need for a formal relationship to address this in a way that might, just might help both parties and most importantly, the weary taxpayer.

But maybe the level of incompetence has been shrunken by checks written by those who prefer the status quo.