By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Special education is a service, not a place, Jack Zocolo, special-education coordinator for the school district told members of the board of education.
“The services that we provide students could happen anywhere,” he said in a report at Monday’s meeting. “It doesn’t have to be in a resource room.”
State law requires the district to provide special education for those age 3 and older who need the service.
The preschool program in Boardman serves 57 children with disabilities. Though some state funding is provided, last year the district paid $171,417 in excess costs.
“So our preschool program is a great program, but it’s very expensive,” Zocolo said.
Zocolo also shared how the numbers of students in the special-education program have changed. About 270 students were receiving special-education services fifteen years ago. Currently, about 750 students do.
Some of the biggest increases are in the areas of other health-impaired students, which includes attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder, and emotional behaviorally disabled students. The number of health-impaired students went from seven in 1993 to 78 now.
The district contracts out various services that cannot be provided in Boardman.
Approximately 100 students attend schools outside the district for programs not provided in Boardman.
“They are our kids,” he said. “They just attend elsewhere.”
Also, 22 students from the district attend other schools through the Autism Scholarship Program. The cost for each, after state funding, is $14,140.
In 1995, after state aid was applied, the district paid about $65,000 to contractors for services. This year’s estimate is approximately $1,025,000.
The Ohio Department of Education gave the district a perfect performance score, for compliance and results, Zocolo said.
The district is working to reduce the costs associated with sending students to other areas, said Frank Lazzeri, superintendent.