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Harleyville, AL: Special ed enrollment up; 'there is only so much money'

Sept 28, 2023, ABC 33, Birmingham, AL: Special instruction student enrollment increases in Haleyville City Schools, sparking funding concerns
The Haleyville City School system is seeing an increase in special instruction student enrollment.
This year having 255 students in need of special instruction. That makes up nearly 15% of their student population.

This year, the school district enrolled an additional 22 special education students, compared to only seven students from the previous school year.

Haleyville City Schools superintendent, Holly Sutherland, said that the funding from the state is based on average daily membership. Each student, regardless of cost, is counted equally.

"There is a fear that you know there is only so much money, and eventually, what we don't want is some of our children to have less than what they need to be successful based on funding," said Sutherland.

There are several reasons why the number of special education students is increasing.

Christy Bice, director of student services, said it starts with the student's home environment, technology use, the overall mental health crisis, as well as many other factors.

She said there are even families from outside of the school district moving to Haleyville to gain the resources offered by Haleyville City Schools.

"I can tell you just in the last year, we have added different components of curriculum and support for our students," said Bice.

That includes a special curriculum designed for students with autism, increased reading interventions and a sensory room designed to provide students with a calming environment outside of the classroom….

The district has applied for a $1.2 million grant, but they will not know until December if they will be receiving that money.


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