One special thing about special education is that it is extremely expensive. State auditor Suzanne Bump has released scathing critiques of three special education collaboratives in Massachusetts, detailing misuse of millions of dollars of funds. I first heard the story reported on WBUR. Now I fear that more shoes may drop.
My question to Will: How do we know that our LABBB collaborative is making proper use of its funds, containing administrative expenses and optimizing its programs’ efficacy? Its Web site provides no administrative or budgetary details. As funding special ed programs consumes as much as 25% of Belmont’s shaky education budget ($8.4M of $41.6M, plus transportation costs, according to the FY12 draft school budget), I feel it is urgent to find out whether the town is paying more than it needs to and is getting the most out of the LABBB relationship. Note that I am not accusing LABBB of misusing funds; I just want to see what the state auditor has to say about its performance. It is clear that the 30 such collaboratives operate with little oversight, which has resulted in governance issues and ethical lapses for those that the auditor has studied. Belmont schools and citizens deserve the biggest bang for their special education buck. Can you help us by asking the State Auditor what if anything she has determined about our collaborative’s governance and efficiency and sharing what you learn?