School Report - Study Compares Costs
Ashli had to move to a group home because of her severe mood swings. Before her condition became worse, she attended a state school in Bowling Green.
"I was told she'd never read," recalled Castleberry. "Yet, after a year of being in the state school, she was reading."
Castleberry said that's one reason state-run schools should stay open, so she's skeptical of Gov. Blunt's review commission which reported on the overall health of state-run schools for severely-handicapped students.
On average, the report found local districts spend $24,000 to teach a child who has severe disabilities, compared with $30,000 at a state school.
So, for the 1,000 students in state schools, Missouri could save about $6 million. Missouri is one of only two states that teaches students in a separate public facility more than 10% of the time.
"I do think that there will be a continued movement over the next several years again, in as much as possible, in a local setting," said Bert Schulte, assistant commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Schulte also said he doesn't think Missouri will eliminate state schools, although the state might realign some low-enrollment schools. He doesn't see any dramatic changes next year.
But that worries Castleberry, who said the state-run school spends more time with Ashli than local schools ever did.
"She would walk in the door and they were very loving and tried to do everything they could to accommodate her when she was raging and having such horrible behavior, and they dealt with it," Castleberry explained. "They wouldn't have dealt with it at the public school system."
That's one reason Castleberry will try to keep students like Ashli in state-run schools.