WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local Schools Director of Pupil Services Jeremy Mills presented a special education plan to the Board of Education on Tuesday, May 28.
He had previously requested a special education teacher, but working with TV Elementary Principal Patti Holly it was determined the best course would be to move one special education teacher into the position of a behavioral specialist for next year.
Other special education teachers will be moved around to fill the place of the teacher serving as the behavioral specialist. According to Mills, this will leave a small gap in second grade, but second grade numbers will be smaller next year and they can possibly use several special education teachers to cover the need.
“Instead of hiring a behaviorist, we are going to move one of our own into that position who knows the kids, who knows the school, who knows the area,” Mills said. “The structure is not really set in stone, because we want to be able to mold this as we go.
“The hope is that [the behaviorist] will be able to serve in the form of a consultant with teachers, but also have time that she can provide the needed social support for the kids who are going through a lot of trauma, a lot of behavioral issues. Putting [that position in place] I think is going to be really good.”
Holly added, “Really what we are looking for is, [this position] won’t be disciplinarian at all. She won’t deescalate kids, she will actually be able to spend the time with the kids teaching them social and emotional lessons so that they will learn from it.”
Board member Jason DeLong aired some of his concerns with the proposal.
“I can’t speak for the other guys sitting here, but the current case load in the State of Ohio is 16 forintervention specialists. We currently have one with 11, one with 12, one with nine, one with 10, one with 13, and one with six. That doesn’t bring into account the less than dozen who are in speech. The case load on six is an MD classroom. So there are 53 kids that deal with challenges that other kids don’t, that I have a big heart for,” DeLong said.
“Those 53 kids currently have — excluding the MD classroom — five teachers. Currently, 11 aides, but we are proposing to make it 10 aides and have a behaviorist. I don’t know, I have a hard time swallowing that. Fifty-three kids need somewhere between 15 and 17, depending on if we bring subs in during the second week of school, like we have been.
“I think I am probably perceived as I don’t have an education degree and am not in the classroom. I’m not trying to assert myself in that situation. When we look at how we’re doing it at the high school and junior high level with a skeleton crew, compared to the proposal. I know kids are struggling in trauma situations, I see it on a regular basis, I’m close to this community. There is something that needs to be done, but I’m not convinced it needs to be done to the extent of 17 people for 53 kids.”
He added, the numbers don’t add up when reaching out to National Trail and Eaton Community Schools.
“We’re not asking for approval for that class, we’re not asking for you to vote on hiring. To deal with the aides, we’re not trying to make it easier or spend more money. If it is written on an IEP, it is the law. So when I look at an IEP and it says they have to have a small group, I’m trying to make sure I can put as many kids in that group so we don’t have to have multiple groups. If it is a one on one, I can’t say, ‘Sorry, Mom your IEP says you don’t get a one on one,’” Holly said.
“I don’t make those decisions, but I have to figure out how to use what I have, or ask for more. I, obviously, don’t want to ask for more.”
“There is no question there is need. Based on the information I got from you today, Dr. Mills, 53 kids, six intervention specialists, and currently 11 aides — 17 people for 53 kids,” DeLong said. “Slice it, dice it, cut it up, some of them moved, I don’t know. I don’t know how we have this conversation in this meeting. It is not the board’s place to necessarily figure this out, but it is our place to figure out how to pay for things. When we don’t get accurate numbers for a long time, that creates uneasiness for [all] of us.”
In other business:
•Maintenance and Transportation Director Jeff Tully reported he applied for a Worker’s Comp Grant with the help of Treasurer Tearalee Riddlebarger. They received the grant in the amount of $9,909.87, which will cover two-thirds of the cost for new floor machines.
•Tully added, eight buses have been inspected, with the others to be inspected in June.
•Director of Technology Derrick Myers reported, SWOCA has enabled new network firewall rules which monitor malware on the network. He will be notified of any offending devices. So far, they have found one teacher computer and one student phone exhibiting some infections.
•Myers also enabled a new feature from Securly called “Find my Chromebook.” It allows lost Chromebooks to be found by GPS location and gives screen shots of activity. This has already been used to find one lost Chromebook.
The next Twin Valley Community Local Schools Board of Education meeting will be held on Monday, June 24, at 6 p.m. in the Media Center.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH