State Task Force Studies How to Lower the Rising Cost of Special Education

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) A state task force made up of lawmakers, and school administrators has been studying ways to tackle the rising cost of special education in Maine schools.

The group met in Augusta on Tuesday to continue work on its report, which will be sent to the legislature upon its completion.

Many communities struggle with the costs of sending special education students out-of-district, but have to because of shrinking enrollment.

The number of qualified workers has decreased in recent years, too.

The task force, which also includes advocates, a teacher, and a parent, has been working on ways to combat these problems.

Proposed solutions include raising pay to retain workers and reducing special education paperwork to align Maine's regulations with federal.

"I think we need to focus on growing our own. I think if we solely rely on increasing the salary, I'm not sure we're going to provide the incentive where we need it and I'm not sure that will solve the problem. It might adequately pay people for services that we're currently needing, but I think there are more factors involved than just pay that we have to look at," said MSAD 17 Superintendent Richard Colpitts.

The task force has also looked at the cost of educating students with and without disabilities in the same space.