Decatur schools weighing special needs options

During a presentation this week before Decatur’s school board, City Schools Decatur’s Director of Exceptional Education Heidi Whatley said the system’s spending $5.7 million on special education while only bringing in $2.8 million.

Whatley’s talk was preliminary to the board determining 2015-16 funding options for CSD’s special ed population which has doubled in size to its current 407 students over the past decade. Whatley said it would cost another $1.5 million to hire the necessary teachers, counselors, nurses and administrators to accommodate this growth. That includes $250,000 to build and staff a Renfroe Middle School class for the system’s six children with profound intellectual disabilities, four of whom now attend Winnona Park Elementary, with the other two in DeKalb County Schools.

It’s likely the board will begin publically weighing funding options during its first budget meeting in early April.