FARMINGTON — Tom Ward, superintendent of Regional School Unit 9, has implemented a budget freeze, except for supplies needed to teach curriculum, because of unexpected special education costs.

The district budgeted $138,000 for four out-of-district placements. These are students who have mental health needs that are beyond the scope of the district’s Day Treatment Centers, Ward said Wednesday.

However, this year, the district has nine students who need special services in programs outside the district. The district also has to pay for transporting the students.

The projected cost for those placements is $313,000, according to information provided to the school board by Christine Gatto-Shea, the district’s special education director. The unbudgeted amount for the out-of-district placements for this year is $175,000.

The special education contingency fund of $140,000 has been spent to meet increased student needs.

In addition, there was a need for six additional unbudgeted education technicians to give one-on-one support based on individual education plan team determinations, Gatto-Shea said Wednesday.

“We offset two of these by reducing positions in other areas,” she said.

The cost of the four additional education technicians for the remainder of the year is $80,000, she said.

That’s the difficult part of special education, Ward said. It is hard to budget for because you don’t know what the needs will be throughout the school year when new students attend, which is one reason why they budget contingency funds, he said.

“It is a major challenge,” Ward said.

The district hired a social worker in December who will spend half the time in that position at the Mallett School in Farmington, and the other half coordinating billing for the district’s three Day Treatment Centers. The district will bill MaineCare for eligible services and be reimbursed.

Laurie Guay is the new social worker and day treatment coordinator. She is also training others to bill for services to MaineCare, he said.

“We anticipate between now and the end of the year we could bring in more than $200,000 that will help offset the unplanned increases,” he said.

Between freezing the budget and the MaineCare revenue, he anticipates they will be OK.

If services to MaineCare are billed for the whole year in 2016-17, the district hopes to bring in an additional $800,000 to $1 million, he said.

The district budget is $32 million this year.

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