SF Hints At Future Special Ed Concerns
Southern Fulton School Board and administrators heard from their special education director last week on future concerns as they relate to their special education program and how those concerns could in turn affect their budget.
Diane Younker opened her informative presentation on special education last Tuesday night with an overview of the origins of special education and how it has evolved into today’s current program.
According to Younker, through The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that includes Child Find, the district has an obligation to locate affected students, have them evaluated for possible services and following through with meeting their needs. Thirteen different issues are identified through Child Find and require a student to have not only a disability but a need. Among those issues identified through Child Find are autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments, speech and/or language impairments, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment including blindness.
Younker noted the district will be undergoing state compliance monitoring beginning in May 2014. The process occurs every six years, and compliance penalties vary in accordance with the infraction.
The special education director also touched on various punishments they are legally able to use. She specifically noted that students with intellectual disabilities, which includes an IQ lower than 69, cannot be suspended from school without a special hearing that must be attended by Pennsylvania Department of Education appointed representatives. As part of the discipline process, Younker also mentioned the need to reward positive behavior, implementing support plans as well as intervention strategies and documentation. Typically, documenting one student during the course of a school year involves 50 to 100 pages of information.
Looking ahead to the future of special education at Southern Fulton that could affect the district’s budget, Younker said they are seeing an increase in the number of evaluations as well as increases in significant needs by students, mental health issues and alternative education needs.
Younker further pointed out the growing need for specific training. In the past, Younker has not only paid for her own conference related expenses but has also covered the cost of attendance for district special education teachers. The board noted the need for the district to cover such training expenses and indicated the topic would be addressed as part of future budget talks.
The board regretfully accepted the resignation of assistant track and field coach Joseph Hollenshead. In turn Hollenshead was appointed to serve as a volunteer coach for the track and field team as recommended by athletic director Kent Hendershot. The vacant assistant coaching position is being advertised.
Jennifer Buterbaugh was added to the district’s professional substitute list for the 2013-14 school year pending the receipt of necessary paperwork.
Ninth- and tenth-grade English students are slated to travel to the Leitersburg Pike movie theater on November 26 to see the newly released “Catching Fire.” High school Principal Meredith Hendershot explained to board members the students read the book, watch the movie and then write a comparison paper as part of their English class. “Catching Fire” is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The students in recent years have also seen “The “Hunger Games” as well as “The Great Gatsby.”
She added it is likely the trip will not take the entire school day, and that the cinema provides the students with their own private theater.
In addition, seven sixth-grade students will be going to Central Mountain Middle School located in Mill Hall to participate in the PMEA District 4 Band Fest. The event will be held April 24, and expenses had been previously budgeted by band director Ben Arnold.
Board members David Smith and Danny Crouse were selected by the board to serve as board representatives on the district’s Education Foundation. Superintendent Hervey Hann reported any Pennsylvania residents or businesses will be able to donate to the foundation and in return receive state income tax credit and apply it to their tax structure. Donors are able to specify how they would like to see their contribution spent, said Hann, who added more than $1,800 was recently received by the foundation following the passing of a former student. The topic of achieving 501(c) 3 status is currently being addressed.
Matthew Powell was granted approval to serve as a substitute driver for Sheila and Kermit Swope retroactive to October 30. Other substitute drivers receiving permission to drive for the Swopes last Tuesday night include Travis Fogal, Aaron Meredith, Kristi Ritz and Allen Morton.
Furthermore, Alisa Stein will be employed as a full-time driver for Snyder Bus Lines for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year and retroactive to November 7.
Four change orders were approved in connection with the ongoing renovation project at the junior/senior high school. Electrical modifications, replacing existing door frames and visual display boards will be addressed through the orders.
The board approved Plan Con parts G and H as part of the renovation project. Superintendent Hann noted Part J is the important part of the process as after its approval the district can begin receiving reimbursement from the state.
Building and grounds
The Southern Fulton girls softball team is scheduled to use the elementary gymnasium on January 5, 12, 19 and 26 as well as February 2, 9, 16 and 23 for the purpose of holding a pitching clinic for elementary and high school girls between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.