Millions being given to Missouri schools to help students with special needs

Missouri lawmakers present an extra budget to Governor Jay Nixon to include a $14 million increase for special needs kids. The money will go toward a fund that reimburses schools for the extra costs of education children with special needs.

Out of Carl Junction’s 300 special needs kids, their special services director says less than 10 were eligible for the High Needs reimbursement from the state, but aren’t confident that more money in the fund will lead to more money for Carl Junction.

“It varies so much from year to year that it is hard to see what that would look like,” says Teena Fare, the Carl Junction Special Services Director.

According to Fare only those special needs students who cost the district three times the cost of the average student qualify. The average cost per student in Carl Junction is $6,900.

Examples of students meeting reimbursement costs might be deaf children needing one on one assistance or those requiring high transportation costs.

“That amount that you can request reimbursement, which is around $21,000 in our district, then you look at the expenditures above and beyond that and request from the state and hope for the best,” says Fare.

According to area school district’s Carl Junction is in line with both Webb City and Joplin. Joplin says only five of their students qualified last year, and in Webb City the number was eight. The reason being that only certain students on an individual education plan require three times the amount fiscally of most.

“They vary, some of them have very minor additional services that we provide, others are more unique, and have more services,” says Carl Junction School Superintendent Phillip Cook.

According to state education officials the growth in the fund is a result of more children with special needs and an increase in the costs of specialized instruction.