The Darien Public Schools are looking at a deficit of more than $400,000 because of rising special education costs for students who attend schools outside the district.

Finance Director Richard Huot said the schools had appropriated $1.1 million for tuition for students who enrolled in private schools. However, as of March 1, the schools had spent $1.7 million and Huot estimated the total expenses would be around $2.6 million by the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal year which ends June 30.

Chairman Kimberly Westcott said she would formally notify the Board of Finance about the deficit but added the deficit is due in large part because of a lack of state funding.

"If we were fully funded by excess cost grants then that would give us another $1 million," Westcott said. "With another $1 million, we wouldn't be in this position."

The schools faced a similar problem that year when they requested money to cover a $234,000 deficit. The RTM approved $350,000 to cover the deficit and the schools ended up paying back $257,000 of the $350,000.

Darien requested $3,588,722 in excess cost grants but Huot said the state would likely only pay about 75 percent of what the town requested. Huot said he was more comfortable estimating the amount of money the state would pay conservatively to help keep expenses in check.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone said efforts have been made to cut out any unnecessary spending that isn't related to instruction in an effort to stay within budget.

"We are going to try to meet the budget," Falcone said.

All was not bad news however, as Huot said the district could see savings totaling $185,530 for health care costs, $47,193 on Medicare and $57,500 for telephone expenses.