Where enrollment is growing

Cost per student is something that is examined on a regular basis by the state Education Department. But its documentation does not break it into categories, which sheds some light on an important issue.

In a recent article in On Board, the publication of the state School Boards Association, it was noted that even though enrollment from 2011-12 to 2017-18 has decreased across New York by about 200,000 — or 8 percent — there is a category that continues to increase: special education cases.

According to the statistics, special education students have increased from 372,296 to 433,622 — or 16 percent — when comparing that same time span. This is where higher costs come in, especially for districts in our area noting the same type of increase.

The cost per student state average is $12,615. If a student, however, is in need of special education the cost is $31,423 per student.

Education, with 18 districts, is a huge driver of our economy in Chautauqua County. It also is a major tax burden. New York state, in delivering aid, needs to get a grip on the costs per student, including those classified as special education, moving forward. Added aid for this group would benefit those students — as well the district.