MV board targeting budget finer points

BY TOM FONTANA
Correspondent

Mountain View school board directors have been asked to consider addressing deficiencies in the district’s special education services for the 2013-14 school year.

At a special meeting Monday night, Michael Slesinski, Director of Special Services, presented the board with two budget options for the 2013-14 school year.

“The district doesn’t have enough teachers for IEP (individual education plan) services for the next school year,” Slesinski told the board.

He explained that the number of students needing IEP support has grown by six percent during the past school year.

“This is mostly the result of new students moving into the district from out of state or from other districts,” he stated. “It’s also because some students were not previously identified or recommended as needing special education services.”

Slesinski asked the board to fill the position of an elementary school teacher who recently resigned, and hire an additional teacher for the high school special education program.

“The state mandates that students in Focus and Life Skills programs be separated, according to age,” he said. “There must be no more than a four-year age range among the students in a classroom. To comply would require two classes, so an additional teacher.”

Slesinski said that in a proposal including the hiring of two elementary learning support teachers, he’s projecting a final budget amount of $586,900 compared to this year’s $188.250.

He said a second option would be for all of the parents of special needs students to sign a waiver that would allow the district to not have to comply with the age difference mandate. In that case, there would only be one classroom, which would eliminate the need to hire an extra paraprofessional.

When asked how Slesinski’s budget proposals would compare to this year’s allocations for special education programs, district business manager Joseph Patchcoski told the board in some areas nothing was budgeted.

“There is actually a zero in those line items in this year’s budget,” he stated. “I don’t know why. During the school year, funds were taken from other line items for those special ed programs that had no budgets. As a result, we have seriously overdrawn accounts.”

“Now I’m scared and confused,” remarked board vice president Thomas Stoddard.

Slesinski (who was not hired until after the 2012-13 budget had been set) assured Stoddard, “My goal is for next year’s budget to reflect accurate expenses in each special education line item.”

Curriculum director Karen Voigt recommended that the board hire two additional elementary teachers for the Title I program.

“The elementary school needs extra help,” she stated. “We are down to three and a half teachers from six a few years ago. One teacher divides the day between the high school and the elementary school.”
She said a budget increase over last year of $235,000 would be mostly in salaries for additional teachers.

“It would be a great benefit to the elementary students,” Voigt added, “if they didn’t have to share a teacher with the high school.”

Voigt also told the board that items listed in her proposed budget for continued professional development for teachers (such as conferences and workshops) would be totally reimbursed through government grants on request following participation in those activities.

The Mountain View School Board next meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 13.