Emotional support shift likely to stay

With less than a month until the Warren County School District has to enact a budget for next year, the likelihood decreases that autistic and emotional support programs consolidated in the Western Attendance Area last year will be moving back.

And several people spoke in opposition to that during school board committee meetings on Tuesday evening.

The administration responded to several issues, addressing why the program was moved initially and how the district will look to improve moving forward.

Noting that the decision was made before he assumed the superintendency, Superintendent Dr. William Clark said, “Youngsville had some room that was available.”

Additionally, he said that the decision was made “not only to save money (but to provide) more intensified service for those groups.”

Travel time was also eliminated, he explained, by transporting those students directly to YEMS as opposed to their home school and then to a school where AS/ES services were offered.

“When it was presented to us,” Board Vice President Donna Zariczny said, “it wasn’t ‘We can save a whole bunch of money.'”

But that doesn’t mean mistakes weren’t made.

“With a change of administration along a lot of different levels, some things were missed,” said Clark, who said he has heard both positive and negative elements to the change.

One of the proposed changes moving forward is staffing.

Clark said that staffing is still under evaluation, and somewhat up in the air given the resignation of YHS Principal Phil Knapp, which was also presented to the committees on Tuesday.

While a position has been added into the budget to provide more administrative help in the Youngsville area, Clark said there is “no recommendation to the board at this time.” With the resignation, Clark said he is “not sure how we are going to handle that.”

The budget also includes retaining four aide positions added at YEMS earlier this year as well as 2.5 special education teachers in the attendance area.

Interim Director of Pupil Services Ruth Nelson said the administration “will be bringing a presentation to June committee meetings on how to move forward in Youngsville.”