The high cost of special ed

CUSD faces growing bill, more disabled students

Chico Unified School District is increasingly worried about its growing special-education bill, and whether charter schools will accommodate severely disabled students. Dave Scott, director of educational services, said he knows of only one severely disabled student who has attended a charter school in the past five years. That school was Chico Country Day School.

“We’ve had parents tell us that charters have told them they need to go back to the district for services,” Scott said. “This is a concern for us; charters are public schools, and the rules are the same for everybody.”

The district says its special-education program costs $9.6 million a year more than what is provided in federal funding. CUSD predicted its special-ed population would increase by about 50 students this fall, and the majority of those students would have moderate to severe disabilities.