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Darien OKs Funds To Cover Special Ed Deficit

Darien had to come up with $475,000 Tuesday night to pay unbudgeted expenses for special education. The Board of Finance approved the transfer of $265,000 from a special reserve fund to the Board of Education , along with an additional $210,000 from the town's general fund. The latter must be approved by the RTM.

Superintendent Stephen Falcone met with members of the Board of Finance Tuesday night and said the school district has already taken a number of actions to reduce costs, including a freeze on hiring special education teachers and reducing the number of aides. However, the school system will still require up to $475,000 for the current school year, he said, although the actual number is hard to predict.

"There's an uncertainty of the special education costs in general. There could be a situation where a child would need some kind of services that we can't predict today, but we would need to provide that service if some situation warranted that," Falcone said.

Another uncertainty is how much funding in excess-cost grants the schools will receive from the state. Darien will not know the amount until June, but Falcone predicted that it could be $2.6 million. He said the uncertainty makes it difficult to know how much of the $475,000 the school system will need.

The $265,000 came from a reserve fund the town set up specifically for special education. An additional $100,000 was left in the account in case the district ends up needing more than $475,000 to cover this year’s shortfall.

At its regular meeting, the Board of Education's voted to create a committee for special education. Primarily it would work with the administration on philosophical and operational issues concerning special education, but some board members were hopeful it could also help control spending.

What do you think of the rising cost of special education? Join the conversation in the comments below, on Facebook and on Twitter .

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