In a victory for Fircrest and other Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs), HB 2720 was approved unanimously by the House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee, last Thursday.
HB 2720 prioritizes safety net funding for residential schools, or RHCs.
There are currently about 860 clients residing at four institutions referred to as RHCs: Rainier School, Lakeland Village, Fircrest School, and Yakima Valley School.
The safety net for special education was instutituted in 1997, following a revision of the special education formulas in 1995.
In Washington state, the fiscal year appropriations for safety net awards are $8.9 million in the 2012 fiscal year and $34.2 million in the 2013 fiscal year.
Students who reside in the RHCs are typically the higher needs students, and they require highly specialized care.
There are currently 26 students under the age of 21 residing in RHCs. Of those, 25 are living at Fircrest School.
Of those 25 students, only one is actually from the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park communitites.
Because of their severe disabilities, the cost, for the Shoreline School District, is between $50,000 and $70,000 dollars per Fircrest student.
The Shoreline School District's out of pocket costs unreimbursed over the last three years totals approximately $500,000. This overwhelming financial burden leaves the district with an estimated shortfall of $400,000, for the fiscal year.
The committee voted, with no opposition, to make the Shoreline School District a priority.