Harford County, MD: "Retrofitting" classrooms for special needs students"

Aug 18, 2017, The Baltimore Sun: Very special, indeed [Editorial] The latest capital improvement program being developed by Harford County Public Schools for the next fiscal year continues what can loosely be called a positive trend. School officials are planning to spend more than $1 million retrofitting classrooms and other facilities to make them usable for teaching special needs students. That would follow an expenditure of $250,000 in 2015 to create a special classroom at Fallston High School to accommodate students with autism. ... That's not cheap. School officials say it costs $76,000 to $238,000 per student to place them in programs outside of the system. So every student kept in their home school system could save Harford County Public Schools nearly a quarter of a million dollars. In the school year that begins after Labor Day in a few weeks, the school system expects students with some degree of autism to total 49 at the elementary level and 12 each at the middle school and high school levels. Keeping that many special needs students in the county school system is a raw savings of between $5.5 million and nearly $17.4 million. Projections are that incidences of autism will increase. "Prevalence has increased by 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010," according to numbers from the federal government's Centers for Disease Control that were posted on the Autism Society's web site. … School officials say the system has, however, reduced the number of special needs students placed in outside programs by about 100 kids in the past three years. That's great progress that will get harder and harder to duplicate going.