New York City obviously thinks that providing special education for pre-kindergarten students is very important, since the city just agreed to pay private contractors $1 billion to teach the kiddos. This amount is almost twice as much as they paid in 2006.
Around 25,000 students will benefit from this program. All of these students suffer from various developmental, learning, physical, or other disabilities. Although the number of students who benefit from these pre-k special education programs have been slowly increasing, the costs per child have been increasing more rapidly. The average cost per child is now about $40,000 each year. However, the expenses for some students can be as high as $200,000.
Where is the money going? The city pays private contractors to offer classes at day care centers, nursery schools, and even in the students’ homes. The classes consist of physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions that last 30-minutes.
Although this is obviously an important and valuable resource for pre-kindergarten students, education and budget officials are not thrilled with the cost of these programs.
“Certainly these children are deserving of services, but it’s a questions of whether all this money is actually benefiting them or is being wasted on the contractors,” said Raymond Domanico, director of education research for the city’s Independent Budget Office.
Sadly, it seems that the contractors might be using the money for inappropriate expenses. For example, some contractors have hired members of their family and given them inflated salaries for the work they did. Even more offensive, some of the contractors have billed the city’s programs for lavish expenses, such as vacations to Mexico, jewelry, and expensive shopping trips.
Luckily, the state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, is cracking down on these contractors. DiNapoli has been auditing them. So far, one contractor in Brooklyn has plead guilty to felony charges and many others are expected to soon be arrested for their misappropriations of state funds.
Via The New York Times