District Administration October 2017 - 36

to provide extensive education to district
paraprofessionals to close this gap. "We
want to get them high-level training so
they can be really effective in supporting
students," Lee says. "We're even considering specializing some of them into ASD
paraprofessionals."
Virginia Commonwealth University's
Autism Center for Excellence provides online and live PD for paraprofessionals who
serve students with ASD. Another option
is certification training-paraprofessionals
can pursue an autism certificate through
the International Board of Credentialing
and Continuing Education Standards.
3. Target interventions
An analysis of special education needs in
Stillwater Area School District revealed
significant growth in demand at both
ends of the age spectrum: birth- to kindergarten-age students who qualify for
early childhood instruction, and 18- to
21-year-old students who require transition services.
The increase in demand results, in part,
from Minnesota's push to identify all children who qualify for early intervention
services, Lee says. The goal is for districts
to save money by identifying and addressing problems earlier in students' lives, thus
reducing the costs of future services.
Transition services for young adults
are another matter. "These are students
who have finished four years of high
school but have ongoing needs in the
areas of vocational employment skills,
postsecondary education skills and independent living skills," Lee says.
Providing these services after high
school is expensive, so Stillwater is determining the best ways to build these
skills while students are still in grades 9
through 12. Such targeted intervention
may save the district significant money,
and increase the number of students with
disabilities who graduate in four years.
4. Add online services
Districts that have invested in technology
and infrastructure in recent years are wellpositioned to take advantage of online services. Speech-language and occupational
therapy, behavioral interventions, mental
36 October 2017

Special ed services increase
Los Angeles USD

In 2012-13 * 7,989 students qualify for occupational therapy
In 2016-17 * 10,391 students qualify
In 2012-13 * 29,850 students qualify for speech and language services
In 2016-17 * 31,865 students qualify
Stillwater Area School District

In 2011 * 12% of students enrolled had disabilities
In 2016 * 14% had disabilities
health services, and psycho-educational
assessments can all take place via secure
videoconferencing.
Solis, when she worked at NewmanCrows Landing USD, contracted with
PresenceLearning-a telehealth network of special education providers-to
help the district provide services. Offsite
speech-language pathologists began working with students via videoconference.
PresenceLearning's therapists complemented the work of in-district speech-language pathologists. Each online provider
had a dedicated caseload but collaborates
with district staff as necessary.
Even after adding support staff to
facilitate communications between students, district staff and online professionals, Newman-Crows Landing USD saved
money, says Solis. She plans to use online
providers to supplement the staff at Turlock, as well.
To be successful, online providers must
be thoroughly trained in the district's
policies, and collaborate regularly with
district staff. "Online therapy cannot and
should not happen in a vacuum," says
Clay Whitehead, CEO of PresenceLearning. "The therapist has to be in very close
coordination with all the stakeholders on
the ground."
5. Seek more funding
Ultimately, school districts can only do
so much with limited funding. That's one

reason why educators and administrators
are lobbying for changes to state funding
formulas.
"We're funded on a per-pupil allocation-our funding is not based on student
need," says Beth Kauffman, associate superintendent in Los Angeles USD's Division of Special Education. "The overall
student population in the district is declining, but the numbers of students in
special ed is slightly increasing."
So, funding is down, even as the need
for special education services is up. Under
current California law, additional funds
are directed to districts that service "highneeds" students-but special education
doesn't count as high-need. The district
has appealed to state lawmakers to change
these rules, Kauffman says.
Other school districts are putting
practices in place to recoup funds. Under
Minnesota law, district administrators
can bill Minnesota Assistance, the state's
health program for low-income residents,
for particular health services (such as tube
feeding) provided at school. "We bring in
maybe $200,000 a year, but we could be
billing more," Lee says.
The district has determined that the
amount of money it may recover justifies hiring a health services supervisor and
clerical staff to recover more funds. DA
Jennifer Fink is a freelance writer based
in Wisconsin.
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2017

District Administration October 2017 - Cover1
District Administration October 2017 - Cover2
District Administration October 2017 - 1
District Administration October 2017 - 2
District Administration October 2017 - 3
District Administration October 2017 - 4
District Administration October 2017 - 5
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District Administration October 2017 - 7
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