O’Fallon Township High School District 203 is working to re-establish special education in its school and break away from the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, or BASSC. The intent is to bring their 20 students back to their schools and save anywhere from $230,000 to $430,000 a year.
Superintendent Darcy Benway said her district last year paid $690,000, excluding transportation costs, to BASSC for the 20 students. At $34,500 per special education student, Benway recognized that there is a lot the district could do for individual students for less money.
While 16 of the school districts that participate in the special education cooperative approved allowing O’Fallon High to leave, six were opposed in large part because losing District 203’s money will shift more costs to them.
BASSC’s challenges to meet state standards when lawmakers have failed to fund those mandates is understandable. But we wonder how efficient the cooperative model is today. It seems every time one government entity hands off taxes to another, there’s always some leakage from the pipeline.
The special education cooperative model may have been efficient when it began, but school districts need to join Harmony Emge and the Columbia districts in examining whether it fits their needs and budgets today. There may be more efficient, better options.