It may be one of the most expensive schools in the country.
The cost at Ethan Allen School, the locked campus in Waukesha County for juvenile offenders, is expected to top $90,000 per student this year, making it more expensive than a year at Harvard University, which costs about $46,000.
The cost for sending a teenager to Ethan Allen is expected to increase 25 percent this year, and the price is rising at other juvenile correctional institutions as well, officials said.
“When the budget came out, I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s a lot of money,'” said Kathy Malone, division manager for delinquency and court services in Milwaukee County’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Milwaukee County sends a majority of its juvenile offenders to Ethan Allen in Delafield.
Part of the reason for the price increase is that fewer teens are being sent to the school, which means fixed costs such as utilities are being spread over fewer people, said Silvia Jackson, deputy administrator of the state Division of Juvenile Corrections. About 450 boys were at Ethan Allen in 1998, while less than 290 were there last month, she said.
The court system has been directing more teens to lower-cost, community-based programs instead.
As it has done that, the profile of teens at Ethan Allen has changed: They are more likely to have committed violent crimes and be repeat offenders.
To care for them, Ethan Allen has 250 workers. More than half are youth counselors who provide around-the-clock security in the facility’s housing units. Ethan Allen also has a year-round school and provides medical and dental care.
Adult prison is cheaper: $27,800 per inmate per year.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Roger Quindel said he believes the fee charged to counties to send teens to Ethan Allen is growing faster than the cost of providing care there. He worries that money will have to be drawn from other programs to cover the increase.
“All the programs that keep kids from Ethan Allen are in jeopardy,” Quindel said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com
– Associated Press
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