Special Education Local Plan Area faces changes
Nov. 6, 2012 — Larger expenditures and less revenue have forced a magnifying glass on Lassen County’s special education program and discussions and decisions will be made to reduce the costs.
In making the decisions, the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) board will consider the approximate 70 to 80 findings from a Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) report completed in June.
The board is comprised of Lassen County Superintendent of Schools Rich DuVarney, 10 school district superintendents and three independent charter school directors.
The LCOE is the administrative unit over Lassen County’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). State and federal money goes to the LCOE, who then distributes it to the local schools.
Up until the 2011-2012 school year, Lassen County was one of two counties who could fund itself on the state and federal aid and local schools did not have billbacks (using money from the general fund to make up special education costs not covered by government money).
Funding is received based on the county’s Average Daily Attendance, not the amount of special education students.
According to DuVarney, each district has billbacks of different proportions and are based on the student population. For example, Janesville School contributed $18,117 for its special education program and Johnstonville pays $8,932.
Richmond School paid $9,350, while the Susanville School District, who DuVarney said has about 20 percent of the student population, contributed $52,351.
Lassen High School paid $40,244.
Local billbacks are the result declining enrollment, higher salary costs, Cost of Living Adjustments and higher commodity costs, which have resulted in less revenue but larger expenditures, according to DuVarney.
DuVarney said he ordered the FCMAT report because everything was going along fine, but he saw the billbacks coming. He said people would want to know how special education could be run more efficient.
FCMAT, according to DuVarney, provides an unbiased, outside look. It examined programs, finances and how everything is run and then came up with recommendations to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
DuVarney gave an update on the FCMAT report to the Lassen Union High School District Board of Trustees during a Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting.
He said, “Things are much more looked at under the magnifying glass, which is rightly so. I think that’s one good thing about our economy going the direction it’s gone is we start looking at things more critically.”
“We’re just in the position where we need to be more efficient with what we do and I think this FCMAT study has been a really great direction. It’s really given us some tangible things to look at,” DuVarney said.
Some of the cost saving measures findings include: The LCOE should reduce the number of contracted days for seven school psychologists to 180 to alight with the school year and hire one school psychologist for the additional 17 days to cover extended school year needs.
The LCOE should develop a policy to ensure staff report all absences; ensure the workability program is operated within the allowable budget set forth by the California Department of Education, and the data and budget reporting for the program are completed and submitted in a timely manner and develop a procedure in collaboration with the finance department to determine if there are funds to support new staff before beginning to the hiring process.
FCMAT also provided recommendations for the delivery system, para-educators and one-on-one aides and student success teams.
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