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Special Education Costs Vex Darien Schools

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien schools expect special education costs to remain a challenge in the future. The 2012-13 budget the Board of Education has recommended includes a $200,000 safeguard to help handle any overruns.

For the past two years, the Board of Education has had to ask for additional funding after special education costs exceeded their budget. Decreasing reimbursement from the state and tuition fees for students who must go outside the Darien district to meet their special education needs have caused the problem. The district is currently projecting a negative balance of $84,535 for the year.

The state says it will reimburse the district for 78 percent of the money it spends on costs like out of district tuition but Darien is predicting the number will be closer to 74 percent, Finance Director Richard Huot said.

The administration has identified $142,000 in possible savings to combat a deficit, Darien Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone said. Costs could be cut in textbooks, teaching supplies, maintenance, professional development and sports teams.

The board will wait until its next meeting on Feb. 28 to decide whether it will ask for more money for special education. Darien’s $80.3 million school budget has been approved by the Board of Education, but must still be voted on by the Board of Finance and the  Representative Town Meeting  before it goes into effect.

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