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Paterson, NJ: District deals with "massive backlog" of speech sessions for special needs

July 11, 2019, NorthJersey.com: Paterson’s troubled special education program getting funding boost https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/paterson-press/2019/07/11/paterson-nj-troubled-special-education-program-getting-funding-boost/1704158001/ PATERSON – The city school district has significantly increased its spending on special education in an effort to eliminate a massive backlog of speech therapy sessions owed to children with special needs. The district’s budget for the year that started on July 1 earmarks $7.4 million for speech and other therapy services, compared to $2.9 million that was set aside for those sessions in the 2017-18 budget. That represents an increase of more than 250 percent. A major part of that increase covers a $3.3 million contract the Paterson school board approved last month with the Northern Regional Educations Service Commission for speech, occupational and physical therapy services for children in special education. Last September, the district had a backlog of more than 36,000 speech therapy hours owed to more than 1,600 students, according to public records. The district has reduced the backlog by about 12,000 hours, officials said. … The number of children in special education in the Paterson district has risen from about 3,640 in 2017 to a projected 29,630 for the upcoming year, according to the budget. …