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Pettisville Schools See Big Cost Hikes In Special Education



The Pettisville School District is seeing a dramatic increase in costs for special education, the school board learned at its Monday, Feb. 19 meeting.

Steve Switzer, superintendent, said the total increase in costs for the 2017-18 school year over last year is $232,625.

The school district has about $633,000 budgeted for special education, which represents about 11% of its total budget, Switzer said later.

That includes higher amounts the district must pay the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center for services including educational consultants, psychologists, and therapists.

There also are additional expenses for transportation, including transportation aides and the lease of a wheelchair-accessible bus.

The district also will pay another district for the education of a Pettisville student who is court-placed out of the district. The total for that student is $13,220.

NwOESC Increases

Most of the increases in special education costs are from the NwOESC.

The increase in NwOESCprovided services are due, in part, to an increase in the services needed by current Pettisville students who qualify for special education.

Switzer said higher costs are also affected by an increase in per-student expenses at the service center.

That’s because some districts withdrew from the NwOESC. They hired their own specialists to provide special education services within their districts.

In a later interview, Switzer said the increase in educational service center costs “reflect our added usage of service and programs from the ESC.

“It is not to be interpreted as any dissatisfaction with ESC services,” he said.

“We are always seeking ways to either reduce or control our costs in all areas.

“For example, several years ago we hired our own psychologist, which we share with another district, rather than purchase psychology services from the ESC.

“This allows us to control our costs and be better able to predict future costs.

“I would expect to continue to look for opportunities to do the same with other programs in the future.”

Calendar

In other business, the board approved a calendar for the 2018-19 school year. One extra instructional day is added for students.

Pettisville students will start classes on Thursday, Aug. 16. The annual elementary open house will be held Wednesday evening, Aug. 15.

The new calendar includes only one round of parent teacher conferences, scheduled for Nov. 1-2.

Students will have three days off at Thanksgiving, and Christmas break will run Dec. 21-Jan. 2.

The calendar includes a spring break the third week of March, and an Easter break with no school on Friday or Monday. School will end for students on May 30, 2019.

The board also approved a list of stipends for the spring musical.

The musical “My Fair Lady” will be presented at the school March 15-18, with a dinner theater available the first three nights and a dessert matinee on Sunday evening.

Stipends were approved for Duane Beck as musical director, Michael Short as assistant director for drama, choreographer, and set director, and for Ryan Briley as assistant director for music and pit orchestra director.

Quiz

A new accounting fund was created for the academic quiz team. The team is raising money to help defray the cost of attending the national quiz tournament in Chicago,

April 27-30.

The team qualified for the national tourney in November 2017 by doing well at the Hicksville Invitational Tournament.

The quiz team held a bake sale and are selling T-shirts that say “Nerd Herd Fan Club” to raise funds for the trip. “Nerd Herd” is the nickname for quiz team members.

Technology

In his report to the board, the superintendent shared an email he received from WBNO radio.

The email commended Mike Zimmerman, district technology coordinator, for his assistance helping radio station workers with difficulties they encountered while attempting to broadcast a recent basketball game at the school.

Zimmerman made a trip to help station personnel connect their equipment with the school wireless network. The email said Zimmerman stayed and helped throughout the game.

“We don’t get that kind of help from many schools,” radio station officials said.

All board members were present.

The next meeting is Monday, March 12, 7 pm, in the school conference room.–D.J. Neuenschwander



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