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WESTBROOK - The Westbrook Public Schools face a budget crisis brought on by a $450,000 shortfall in the budget accounts that pay for special education students' programming, services, outplacements, transportation, and other costs. To fill this hole, the district requested-and the Board of Finance approved-a $450,000 special appropriation.
The unanticipated high costs are driven by special education students who were not known when the 2013 budget was prepared. The unanticipated students either were not yet identified as needing high-cost special services or they moved into the school district only after the budget was approved.
Last week, the Board of Selectmen voted to send the $450,000 special appropriation request on the town meeting for a vote. The Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m. in the Mulvey Municipal Center.
State and federal law require that all towns provide a free and appropriate public education to all students, including special education students whose needs are greater than those of regular education students.
For identified special education students, the range of the educational programming and services that as school district must provide by law is dependent on each student's individual disability. When special education students have extraordinary needs, their programming costs, including for some an out-of-district placement at a special school, can be very expensive.