Concord Journal's "bombshell" on the front page of last week's issue
(“State Won't Pay Share of SPED”) certainly grabbed our attention. It needlessly distressed the Concord community.
After reviewing the facts, we believe that the article was littered with
inaccuracies and inflammatory comments. The actual situation is less dramatic.
Journal’s article is based on State Department of Education communications
that affect only certain private residential
special education placements that fall under a 50/50 state reimbursement
program. These students are a small percentage of all out-of-district
placements; and some of the residential placements are funded by other state
agencies. By failing to check
its facts, the Journal inaccurately reported that cost sharing for all
out-of-district private placements is being slashed. Furthermore, the article’s assertion that “the state will
no longer share in the cost of educating” these residential students is also
wrong. Commissioner Driscoll’s
memos are clear that the cities/towns will receive most, if not all, of their
Fourth Quarter FY03 state cost share reimbursements.
As for FY04, it is premature to state that there will be no
reimbursement. The memos were
issued to alert Superintendents of a change in payment procedures – a far cry
from a refusal by the state to honor its SPED funding obligations.
(View the memos at our website: www.ConcordSpedPac.org).
most disturbing of all were Becky Shannon’s inflammatory comments regarding
the upcoming school budget. Ms.
Shannon predicts only doom and gloom because of special education costs. Her
ill-informed and insensitive comments have caused others anguish over twisted
facts. Ms. Shannon does not realize
that the vast majority of families with children in special education also have
children in regular education. Few
are more sensitive to the impact of the cost of special education upon the total
school budget than families of special education students.
We work with school officials to identify programs and initiatives that
would use our educational resources fairly and efficiently. Elected to represent
all of Concord’s residents, it is disappointing to see Ms. Shannon use her
office to pit the regular education community against the special education
caution the Journal to check the facts on controversial issues, and likewise
caution Ms. Shannon to avoid creating division were none exists.
The “bombshell” was a dud. Given
current fiscal uncertainty, we urge everyone to turn our collective focus toward
finding fair and practical solutions to educating all of Concord’s children.
Orfei & Christine Corr, chairs of The Concord Special Education Parents
Advisory Committee (Concord SPED PAC)
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|Last updated January 16, 2003
By Melody Orfei