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Pottsgrove, PA: "Surge" in SPED students; seven require "one-on-one aides"

Sept 26, 2018, Pottstown (PA) Mercury: Pottsgrove sees special education enrollment surge 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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