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Loveland, CO: District spends almost $1M for out-of-district SPED placement

Feb 4, 2019, Loveland (CO) Reporter Herald: Thompson School District to discuss out-of-district placements—Program could return special-ed students to Thompson School District http://www.reporterherald.com/news/education/ci_32429878/thompson-school-district-discuss-out-district-placements The Thompson School District is looking at bringing a program in-house for some special-needs students instead of sending them to schools in Greeley, Fort Collins and Denver. Charlie Carter, the director of support services, will propose to the Thompson School District Board of Education on Wednesday a new partnership with Catapult Learning Schools to open a program here in the Thompson School District for some middle and high school students with special needs. "I'm really excited for us to include these kids in our community," said Carter when reached by phone Monday. It specifically affects one group of students who have been bused to schools in other cities because their specific needs were not met within the district. Last year, the Thompson School District paid $804,155.91 for out-of-district placements for 30 students with special needs to ensure that they received a "free and appropriate public education." This year, $890,000 is budgeted for those placements. … To have Catapult Learning Schools open two classrooms in the Thompson School District, staffed with teachers, teaching assistants and counselors and with a capacity of 20 students, would cost the district a fixed rate of $580,000 per year, according to information that will go before the school board. "The per-pupil cost will be lower, but additionally, where we will see significant savings is in transportation," Carter said. The per-pupil cost with this proposal would compute to $29,000 per student per year. Right now, the cost per student per year is $38,500 at Sierra School in Greeley and $57,700 at the facility schools in Denver, according to information from the district. Those numbers do not include transportation costs. The 20 students who could be served by this program do not account for all the special-education students who are currently sent out of district; that number, though it varies, was 30 last year. However, this is the first step in a phased plan to provide these services to students and families locally…. "Our hope is to ultimately bring all of our students home."...