New York City is paying private contractors more than $1 billion this year to operate a little-known special education program for 3- and 4-year-olds, nearly double the amount it paid six years ago. The program serves 25,000 children with physical, learning, developmental and other disabilities. While the number of children in the program has risen slowly in recent years, annual costs have soared to about $40,000 per child, according to an analysis of city education spending by The New York Times. The city pays private contractors to provide classes, as well as individual instruction at homes, day care centers and nursery schools. Children may also be prescribed speech, physical and occupational therapy in half-hour sessions, several times a week. Education and budget officials said they were alarmed by the costs, but maintained that lobbyists for private contractors had blocked efforts in Albany to curb spending. The program, often referred to as special-ed pre-K, now accounts for about 6 percent of the city’s $19 billion education budget, the spending analysis showed. “Certainly these children are deserving of services, but it’s a question of whether all this money is actually benefiting them or is being wasted on the contractors,” said Raymond J. Domanico, director of education research for the city’s Independent Budget Office.
City officials said some of the growth in spending stemmed from more awareness of autism: some special-ed pre-K students, for example, are receiving behavior-modification therapy as many as 35 hours a week, driving their costs as high as $200,000 a year. But the officials acknowledged that autism services accounted for only part of the increase. When government auditors have delved into disclosure reports by contractors, they have routinely discovered irregularities. Some contractors have billed the program for jewelry, expensive clothing, vacations to Mexico and spa trips to the Canyon Ranch resort, The Times found in a review of a decade’s worth of education, financial and court records. Others have hired relatives at inflated salaries or for no-show jobs, or funneled public money into expensive rents paid by their preschools to entities they control personally. New audits by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli — which focused on a dozen special-ed pre-K contractors, seven of them in New York City — have already led to a felony guilty plea by one Brooklyn contractor, and officials said more arrests were expected. 通过这篇关于特殊儿童教育经费的英语作文，你是不是也对这种现象有了自己的见解呢？要如何既保证儿童教育的经费支出，又确保没有经费浪费呢？Any thoughts？