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WCPS seeks federal special-education grants

May 19, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Washington County Public Schools is applying for about $4.85 million in federal grant money for local special-education programs that serve 2,700 students with disabilities.

In the past, the school system has received similar federal funding, which is distributed by the state.

The Washington County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to seek the special-education funding, which pays for staff, materials, administration and professional development.

The bulk of the fiscal year 2010 request of $4.85 million -- $4.67 million -- would pay for staff, according to grant application documents. More than $150,000 of the requested funds would go to administration.

School board member Donna Brightman said Tuesday that spending per special-education student has risen recently. She said the amount spent per student in fiscal year 2006 was $16,429, and the amount spent in fiscal year 2008 was $18,892.

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Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said an increase in cost could be attributed to additional transportation expenses or increases in teacher pay.

Washington County Public Schools' cost per pupil overall was $9,632 during the 2007-08 school year -- the lowest per-student spending in Maryland.

Officials said the grants will help educators provide individualized instruction programs for local students with disabilities.

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