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Surge in special-ed students poses budget challenge; Talladega College visit slated

Financial implications of an increase in students with special needs topped the agenda at the monthly meeting of the Miller-McCoy Academy board, April 26.

Currently, 13 percent of Miller-McCoy’s enrollment – a total of 67 students – are identified as having special needs, an increase of 22 students that could strain the school’s finances.

Under the state’s Minimum Foundation program, schools are accorded a higher per-pupil allocation for students with special needs, but not always enough to cover the cost of their education. At least one of Miller-McCoy’s special-ed students, for example, may require a one-on-one teacher aide.

Adding to the problem, the state does not release special education funding to schools until March, when the school year is almost complete.

“We owe these kids an appropriate education through March, but we can’t collect payment until March. It’s a cash-flow issue more than anything,” Tiffany Hardrick, middle school principal, said.

The state takes enrollment twice a year, on Oct. 1 and Feb. 1. Since the October count, Miller-McCoy’s general enrollment has dropped by 42 students.

In other school news, Hardrick announced that 66 percent of seniors have already secured acceptance at four-year colleges.

This week, 37 seniors will travel to Talladega College in Alabama. Representatives of the college visited MIller-McCoy earlier this year and said they were impressed with what they saw. The college is offering to waive boarding costs for any Miller-McCoy students who enroll there this fall.


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