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(Ireland) Cost of SPED transports grows to $140M (U.S.); 20% of school budget is SPED

Oct 12, 2019, Irish Times: Cost of school transport for special needs pupils to exceed €100m—Lack of local school places for special needs pupils a key factor behind increase
The cost of transporting special needs pupils to schools in taxis and minibuses is set to climb to a record €100 million [$140M U.S.] next year. One factor behind the escalating cost is the need to transport children long distances due to a lack of appropriate school places in their locality, it has emerged…. In the coming year alone, an additional €26 million has been sourced for schools transport. The rising cost of this and other frontline services has led to the capital budget for education being reduced in 2020, the first cut in six years. “Of the total transport budget, 50 per cent is going to special-education provision. That’s private taxis, bus assistants on buses,” Mr McHugh said …. Mr McHugh was speaking following an address to the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education in Athlone, which was marking its 50th year in operation. While he said 20 per cent of education spending next year would go on special needs, he said next year’s budget did not “reflect his ambitions” for education in the coming year. “To be honest, it was a very, very difficult place to be in. I stood as Minister for Education a year ago saying what I wanted to do. It’s not reflective of where I want to be as a minister for education. it’s not reflective of where we want to be as a government. And I know it’s not reflective of where you want to be and want to go. “But it is reflective of a given point in time in terms of Brexit scenarios . . . So, my ambitions for education are reflected in where we’re at in this given point in time.” …


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