Sept 26, 2018, Pottstown (PA) Mercury: Pottsgrove sees special education enrollment surge https://www.pottsmerc.com/news/pottsgrove-sees-special-education-enrollment-surge/article_a43514b8-c1df-11e8-975e-f3b94a026590.html LOWER POTTSGROVE — … Tuesday night, the Pottsgrove School Board heard from its special education expert, Kathryn Pacitto, the director of pupil services, who gave them some startling and potentially costly news. Since July 1, the first day of the fiscal year, Pottsgrove has seen 45 new special education students enroll. At least seven of those students have IEPs that require that seven new one-on-one aides need to be hired. "We're going to have to hire some people we had not planned on hiring," said Superintendent William Shirk. Pacitto said the number is not unusual as much as the severity of the issues which need to be addressed among this particular group of special education students. Although no cost to the special education budget was made available to the public Tuesday night, Nester said the influx of students and costs associated with their education will put the special education budget over budget. But he said the excess can be absorbed by the budget's fund balance. Nester took advantage of the "teachable moment" to note that such unexpected expenditures "are why we have fund balances and surplus funds."… Nester said Wednesday that while an exact number has not yet been calculated for the aides, he can say the pay for one-on-one aides ranges from $13.09 to $16.26 per hour. "Annual salary would range from $16,585 to $20,601 depending on length of service at Pottsgrove," he wrote in an email response to a Digital First Media inquiry That puts the budget impact of those seven students between $116,095 and $144,207 for just the aides and may not include other services outlined in their IEP…. Custer said she works in Real Estate "and more than once I've heard people say they want to move to Pottsgrove because their child has special needs." Shirk said he looked into the previous locations for the students and they are not coming from a single location. "They're coming from all over southeastern Pennsylvania," he said. … It was a contract with a special education school known as Cottage Seven and a total of seven students are enrolled there. Two need "intensive emotional support," at a cost to the district of $385 each per day. The remaining five need a lower level of care listed simply as "emotional support." That cost is $200 per day. The total cost to the district for these seven students — different from the seven new students who need aides — is $140,140. That works out to $20,020 per student. Back in 2016, Nester put Pottsgrove's cost-per-student at $18,063….
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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