POTTSTOWN PA – An emotional support class for up to eight students in kindergarten through second grade within the Pottsgrove School District will be opened at West Pottsgrove Elementary School in Stowe, the Board of School Directors agreed Tuesday (Oct. 22, 2013), because administrators have found an unexpected but immediate need for special education services the class will offer.
Some students who will be assigned to the class have exhibited “behavioral issues” that were not diagnosed or identified when school began in September, Superintendent Shellie Feola told the board. Several others, who were properly identified, have since moved into the district, she added.
The class, which requires hiring a qualified teacher and two support aides, will improve the education of those involved while meeting state preferences to teach them inside a district classroom that represents their “least restrictive environment,” Director of Pupil Services Ann Myers reported. It also ensures, however, that other more “fragile” special education students – whose health has the potential of being affected by proximity to those with behavioral issues – can be kept safe, Myers said.
The annual cost of conducting the class was estimated by Myers at about $171,000. Money to create it is “earmarked for out-placement tuition” in the district budget but must be reallocated, Feola said; directors authorized the expense. It may even represent a bargain, Myers suggested. As many as five students who are likely to be part of the class may have otherwise qualified for placement elsewhere, at a total annual cost of up to $200,000.
Because “the need for this class was unforeseen,” according to Myers, getting it established may take some time. While the job vacancies can be posted quickly within the district, finding and hiring a teacher and aides who meet required qualifications could take substantially longer, Feola said, adding “the sooner we get started, the better off we are.”
In response to a question from director Michael Neiffer, Myers acknowledged more districts are finding themselves with problems similar to Pottsgrove. “The people I’ve talked to say they are seeing more mental health issues, and more severe behaviors, among children at younger ages,” she said.
- Pottsgrove to add ‘emotional support class’ (The Mercury)
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Oct. 22 meeting):
- Pottsgrove To Open Special Ed Class At West Elementary
- Adams Resigns From ‘Grove Board; Successor Sought
- ‘Grove High Renovation Not Yet Ready For Plan Review