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Parents concerned with Gov. LePage's plan for special needs students

It could be a major change for preschool children with special needs, as Governor LePage looks to shift responsibility from the state to local school districts. (WGME)

SCARBOROUGH (WGME) -- It could be a major change for preschool children with special needs, as Governor LePage looks to shift responsibility from the state to local school districts.

Right now, the state pays about $40 million a year to provide services for about 2,500 special needs preschoolers.

Jamie Edwards is the mother of a special needs preschooler. Her 3-year-old son goes to the Morrison Center where he receives therapy for speech, cognitive, sensory and motor skills. She says her son won't get the attention he needs in a school setting.

"He has everything he needs here,” Edwards said. "I would prefer to stay in a center like this. I think it's better for the kids."

Under the governor's proposal, the responsibility of providing special education services to 3, 4 and 5-year-olds, with developmental disabilities or autism, would shift from the state to public schools.

But South Portland's superintendent says right now they don't have the staff or space for a special needs preschool program.

"Certainly schools would need time to develop the capacity,” Superintendent Ken Kunin said. “Our district, for instance, right now does not have the space to expand programs."

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