From the Bristol Press:

BRISTOL — The public school budget ended 2015-16 with a $1,236,993 deficit, mostly due to special education costs.

“Special ed is our biggest cost driver, and the most unpredictable,” said Karen Vibert, the Board of Education’s finance committee chair.

Vibert said she expects the $1.2 million to be covered by the Excess Cost Sharing state grant, which goes to the city “but statutorily it has to come to the Board of Ed if we have an overage.”

The total deficit was actually higher, but it was offset by the one percent of the previous year’s budget that can be carried forward by state statute, as well as some savings in other budget areas, she said.

The special ed deficit overall was $3,999,334, she said. “It’s really important that we know the true deficit, because when we go to build our budget for next year we need to see exactly what this year’s special ed costs are.”

“I am not in any way saying that special ed is costing us too much money,” Vibert said. “These students deserve these services. My concern is the government does not fund special ed properly.”

The state Department of Children and Families can relocate a student in the district at any time, and they can cost the district as much as $250,000, she said.

“There is no way to budget for that because we have no clue what’s going to happen,” she said.

Follow this link for the follow up story.

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