Committee Hears About Special Education Savings

Last week, Everett School Committee members heard about the millions of dollars of savings and the expanded mental health services that the Everett Special Education Department continues to provide in the local school system.

Dr. Michael Baldassarre, Director of Special Education, appeared at the regular meeting to present the savings that his department has achieved in the current school year saying, “We have saved money by spending on programs.”

Baldassarre divided his presentation into two parts.  The first part focused on the savings that the Devens School has achieved for the local educational system.  Devens School operates out of a rented space on Church Street, and provides services to 53 special needs students, as well as 11 other districts so students who pay to the Everett School Department $383,383.36 for these services.  It was also noted that more than $100 per day is saved in transportation cost for the 53 students.  As a result of having the Devens School, Baldassarre pointed out while communities like Chelsea, Malden and Revere have seen large special-needs students increases in their Out of District Placements, Everett Schools show a substantial decrease going from 107 in 2013 to 78 in 2018. Baldassarre estimated the projected Devens School savings in this year alone to be more than $1.8 million.

In the second part of the presentation, Baldassarre pointed out that today mental health services are available to more than 400 Everett students as compared to only 100 students in 2015 and treatments are available at more times other than just during the school day.

Baldassarre pointed out that last year Everett Schools employed 10 full-time members to provide these services and in this year, the program has been outsourced to the Eliot Clinicians operating out of the Umana Center on Ferry Street.  A major benefit to the students using these services is that the student waiting list and two-month-period to be seen has disappeared as students are now receiving services on a walk-in basis.  He estimated the savings in three years to be more than $600,000.  He also noted that by including the services that students need in their Individual Educational Plan, state reimbursement from Medicaid has gone from $800,000 to more than $1.5 million for this year.

After the meeting, Superintendent Frederick Foresteire said,” Dr. Baldassarre and his staff have really upgraded the services that we provide and as demands get greater on the school system, they have kept ahead of it.”

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