POLAND — Providing in-house special education services to Regional School Unit 16 students would benefit them and save money, Special Education Director Holly Day and Special Education Dean Jo St. Peter-Scott told directors Monday night.

It costs the district about $1.7 million to send 25 students to other schools or districts, including $1.2 million for tuition, an estimated $320,000 for MaineCare insurance, about $163,000 for students without MaineCare, and $20,000 for transportation.

Day and St. Peter-Scott said if RSU 16 established a Social Emotional Program, tuition costs would decrease and students would benefit by:

  • Connecting with their peers.
  • Developing friendships which can be role models to acquire academic and social skills.
  • Accessing elective courses.
  • Participating in extracurricular activities.
  • Increasing learning opportunities.

If a program is budgeted for fiscal year 2020-21, the district would not have to pay for four students in grades seven and eight next year, Day and St. Peter-Scott said. Another four students could be added the following year, and possibly the elementary grades as well, they said.

The cost of the first year would be offset by tuition savings, the two pointed out.

The district would need a special education teacher, two additional education technicians, a part-time social worker and contracted services, but once the program is established, the savings for RSU 16 would increase, they said.

School board member Norm Davis of Poland asked if there were enough qualified for those positions and if the district could pay for them.

Superintendent Ken Healey and school board Chairperson Mary Martin said the three-year teachers’ contract that goes into effect next year should suffice.

Healey said it’s important to “bring the right people to it.”

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