Educating children with disabilities is expensive.
This year, the Keene School District will spend about $13.7 million for services ranging from special education teachers to speech and physical therapists.
That figure also includes funds for programs that serve children with severe disabilities, programs that are so specialized the district can’t run them in Keene.
As expensive as those programs can be — hundreds of thousands of dollars for one year, in some cases — the cost is more easily absorbed in a city the size of Keene than in some of the neighboring towns.
Sometimes, the annual school district meeting in a small town can sound like a game of “what if”:
What if a child with a severe disability moves into our town?
Paying for one student to attend a specialized program, like the school at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, could double the special education budget of some districts.
Out-of-district placements this year range from $30,000 to $375,000 in the Chesterfield, Harrisville, Marlow, Marlborough, Nelson and Westmoreland school districts, according to Timothy L. Ruehr, the districts’ business manager.