By Anne Dachel
Loss of Brain Trust Update Dec 6, 2021
Once again most of the stories were from the U.K. where special education costs are putting more and more schools into deficit spending and where they can’t build special schools fast enough.
There’s always the local official or the headteacher who’s quoted saying they are ‘delighted,’ or ‘excited’ about what’s happening.
Despite all the happiness over special ed spending there are jolts of reality.
A new report found that a third of English local councils aren’t providing adequate services for their disabled students.
And Indra Morris, the DfE director general for children’s services, communications and strategy group, revealed that the government was working directly with around one in three councils in the country to secure improvements.
In Leicester, in central England, they’re building a special needs nursery school costing $1.2 million for “up to 34 children.”
Officials are ‘very proud’ and ‘extremely excited.’
Over in Sefton, on the west coast of England, the city council revealed that they’re sending 126 special needs kids outside the borough for school costing “a total cost of [$8M], with an additional [$1.3M] projected to be spent next year.”
It seems there are more special needs kids.
The report states:“The continual increase in demand for High Needs support and the anticipated increase to the deficit on the HN Block over the next few years is still of serious concern as there is no clarity from the Government over how future / accumulated [dedicated schools grant] deficits will be resolved.”
In common with the picture nationally, there has been a sharp increase in the number of children identified as having special educational needs in recent years, which has contributed to a huge national overspend of over £250 million [$332M]. In Sefton, it is estimates an additional 194 children will have Education and Health Care plans in the borough over the next five years.
Hertfordshire, near London, has been in the news because of a special ed disaster. In a story where the system is described as ‘absolutely broken,’ we’re told that 240 student have no special school places.
These kids are then relegated to mainstream ed which “cannot cope with their needs.”
A spokesperson for the SEND Crisis Hertfordshire group, who campaign for the rights of children with special education needs, said: "We've got a lack of schools. There is not one ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] school in all of Hertfordshire…. “
New Addington, also near London, is opening a new autism school for 150 kids. The folks in charge are ‘delighted’ and ‘so pleased.’
In central England, in Leeds, the city council is dealing with the next big crisis in the decline of children: the cost of young adult care.
Officers at Leeds City Council have approved nearly £10m [$13M] worth of funding to go towards building a new home for a learning centre for young adults. The Vine provides education for people with special educational needs, aged 19-25, and is now set to move into a permanent purpose-built home after nearly a decade in exile….
This will be for 60 young people, but this is just the beginning.
Plans for the site first emerged in 2020, as members of the authority’s decision-making executive board were told the numbers of young adults needing services provided by the Vine was increasing.
A document which went before the board in December last year claimed that the annual cost of borrowing the total amount of £10.8m to build the centre would be £374,000 [$494,000] a year, and that it would allow the council to meet its legal obligation to provide specialist learning places….
Here in the U.S. the CDC released yet another huge jump in the autism rate, from in every 54 children to one in 44, with no real press coverage.
That’s because no one has ever been alarmed over autism rate increases. They’re always attributed to “more awareness and wider availability of services to threat the condition” as a brief story from NBC declared.
Autism is now part of being a kid. Just accept it if happens to your child. It’s probably due to all the autism therapy that’s now available.
I’m starting to see stories about schools being built exclusively for autism in the U.S., similar to what’s been going on in Britain for a while now.
An autism school in Canton, Ohio has plans for a $2 million expansion in order to serve 30 percent more students.
“The expansion has been deemed necessary based on a growing waiting list and interest in what our school can do for our students and families facing autism,”says Terry Frank, co-founder and executive director.
In the state of Connecticut special ed costs are going up because more kids have autism.
A decade of rising costs for special education and increased student need are facing a staffing shortage that is frustrating efforts both by parents to provide suitable services for their children and by local districts needing a balanced budget.
According to state data, the total number of students in special education has increased from 63,482 in 2010-11 to 79,058 in 2020-21. Also increased is the percentage of students who are in need of special education — from 11.6 percent of the student population to 15.9 percent over the same time period.
One of the most dramatic increases is in diagnoses of autism, which increased by 79 percent between 2010-11 and 2020-21, according to state data. Autism now makes up 13.3 percent of students with disabilities in the state of Connecticut.
… But the cost of these services presents a huge challenge to districts particularly as the number of students with special needs makes up a growing percentage of the total student population. …
In 2019-20, Lyme-Old Lyme outplaced two special education students, at a cost of about $523,000 in tuition, according to state data. The district was responsible for about $521,000 of that amount, according to the 2021-22 budget booklet. …
In Indianapolis, having more kids with autism isn’t the real problem. They just need more therapists for kids who have “been on a long waiting list.”
Next week I promise you more of the same. It never ends.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.