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Jump in special-ed students poses budget challenge; overall enrollment slips

Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy has seen a 19 percent increase, from 58 to 69, in the number of students requiring special-education services, board members learned at their monthly meeting, Sept. 10.

Special-education students pose a budgetary problem for schools because the cost of  services they may require—social workers, speech therapists and other specialists—is not reimbursed until later in the year.

School principal Eileen Williams faulted the Recovery School District’s new OneApp enrollment system for not identifying special needs in time for the school to plan ahead. A federal IDEA grant will cover some of the special education costs when enrollment numbers are finalized, she said.

Williams said the school’s general enrollment of 367 students is 14 fewer than called for in the projected budget. The average class size holds at 24 students.

Williams noted that the school sustained very little damage during Hurricane Isaac.

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