Providing for children of all abilities is challenge for school systems

MARSHALL COUNTY — With as many as 1 million Indiana students attending schools last year, a small percentage of those are considered special needs students. That number is 170,014.

Local school districts are tasked with the challenge of providing a quality education for all students and this sometimes include additional services.

“Not getting help can affect a child mentally and emotionally. It even turns a kid off sometimes to school and they don’t want to learn anymore, and it then turns out that maybe they become a behavioral problem and the issue is that they’re really struggling with a subject like math,” said Director of Special Education for Plymouth Schools Michele Riise.

According to Tom Bendy, the treasurer for John Glenn School Corporation, for each student who attends school, the state provides about $5,500 per student to the school. An additional $8,350 is given per child if the child has a severe handicap, while mild to moderate disability students garner $2,265.

John Glenn spends over $1 million on special education.

According to Bendy, even with the additional funding that comes from the state, there are some children that schools will lose money on, depending on the needs of that child. Children who are more severely disabled may require more than the special education teachers, such as an additional staff member or in some instances, a full time nurse, who may be paid at $18,000-20,000 per year.

“State revenue won’t cover that,” said Bendy. “We have to use general fund monies to cover those costs.”

Schools are unable to give a final estimation for how many special education need students they will have until just before the start of the year when final roles are tallied.

An in depth look at the special education funding issues locally is featured on the front page of today's Pilot News.