Believe it or not, a private school education for a child in need of special education can be cheaper than a public school education.
At the surface, it seems true that a private school is more costly. In fact, many specialized private schools for children with disabilities are charging tuition rates over $80,000 per student. However, this does not mean that your child has to pay this price, and here is how it works:On average, it costs $45,358 to educate a disabled child in a state-approved private school, while it costs $50,146 to educate a pupil in a public school. The costs for county special service schools are even higher, and these estimates do not include transportation costs.
However, law requires that if the local public school cannot provide a “free and appropriate” education to a child in need, the district must pay to send the child to a school outside the district that can effectively educate the student. This usually means the child will be sent to a state-approved private school, which is done at the taxpayers’ expense.
However, students may also be relocated to out-of-district public schools. This allows special needs children to interact with their non-disabled peers, which is a positive advantage for the development of the child. This option may also provide some cost savings, although this may not prove to be true according to Gerard Thiers. Thiers is the executive director of ASAH
, which is a non-profit group that represents over 125 special-education private schools around New Jersey. He believes that the public school option may not be cheaper due to the cost of pensions, Social Security, and various health benefit costs. On the contrary, private school tuition rates are all inclusive. Thiers noted that while it is admirable for public schools to create programs for children in need of special education, it would probably be more costly to do so in a public sector. These findings will influence the recently proposed legislation
that is intended to reduce waste and improve the quality of special education programs.