***Feb 26, 2018, Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun: With more special education students each year, distr

For the past several years, Coachella Valley Unified, Desert Sands Unified and Palm Springs Unified have each seen higher enrollment in special education, while overall enrollment has decreased.

As this trend is expected to continue, districts are looking for ways to provide not just academic support but also supplementary services including speech therapists and psychologists.

According to state data, the number of special education students at Desert Sands Unified has increased from 2919 to 3193 between the 2012-2013 and 2016-2017 school years. At Coachella Valley Unified, numbers have risen from 1636 to 1900 and 2107 to 2395 in Palm Springs Unified. General education enrollment, however, has decreased slightly in all three districts. These trends are fairly consistent with state and county averages.

Laura Fisher, an assistant superintendent at Desert Sands Unified School District, said the rise is due to improved methods of identifying students who are eligible or the additional resources….

The growing number of students in special education could have a considerable impact on district budgets. A five-year projection of expenditures presented at a Palm Springs Unified board meeting in February estimates that spending increases on special education will rise each year. In the 2018-2019 school year, special education expenditures will rise by more than $1.2 million. By the 2022-2023 school year, the spending increase is expected to be $1.5 million from the previous year.

Victoria Parkinson, director of special education for Palm Springs Unified, said resources can feel limited as the number of students on IEPs grows.