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Kennebec, ME: School budget increase due to SPED

June 11, 2017, Kennebec (ME) Journal: Farmington area residents voting on district budget, bond proposal http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/06/11/farmington-area-residents-voting-on-district-budget-bond-proposal/ The proposed budget calls for a $1,148,163, or 3.4 percent, increase over the 2016-2017 budget with the greatest boosts for district special education services and student and staff support. The proposed special education increases garnered the most conversation during the May 31 session, with some voters questioning what was driving the additional costs. Even with recent increases, however, RSU 9 special education funding lags well behind the state average. In the 2015-2016 school year the district spent $1,391 per student toward special education while state average was $1,953. District Superintendent Thomas Ward said in addition to new students moving into the district with special education needs, RSU 9 is still catching up on its special education funding levels. “I was very upfront when I came here. We were terribly underfunding special education,” Ward said in an interview Friday. “And I just said it’s going to take time and over time we’ll do it slowly and we’ll start heading in the right direction and we’ve been able to do that.” With that underfunding, came legal liability, Ward said, as the district failed to properly serve its special education students. He has argued that increases in special education funding would likely cost less than potential lawsuits against the district