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SC Meeting: December 17, 2019

The major topic of discussion at the 12/17 School Committee meeting was the Student Support Services Budget Request.

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Student Support Services Budget

Mary Lammi and Julie Muse-Fisher presented the student support services budget request, which features a total increase of 10.19 FTEs. Some of these are new positions, but most are existing positions which are being funded by alternative sources and need to be shifted to the FY20-21 operating budget.

Budget Drivers

  • Growing student enrollment

  • Increasing number of students requiring special education, counseling, and English language instruction

  • Strengthening in-district capacity to meet students’ needs through a continuum of academic and social-emotional programs and services

  • Addressing caseload/workload barriers to equitable inclusive education

Trends in Special Education Enrollment:

  • Needham's SPED enrollment has increased slightly but steadily since 2014, from 14.5% to 17.2%

  • Needham's Out-of-District rate has remained relatively steady, around 8.5%. Over half of OOD students are identified with either Autism (25%) or an Emotional disability (26%)

The presentation included an overview of the district's specialized programs — Connections Therapeutic Program, Autism Specialized Program, and Transitions (helping students returning from medical or psychiatric hospitalizations) — all of which have staffing needs required for improvement and expansion.

  • Of note: medical hospitalizations remained level between 2017-18 and 2018-19 (35 vs. 34), while psychiatric hospitalizations almost doubled (17 vs 29)

Case studies for current and target caseloads were presented for a number of positions, including Special Education Liaison, Speech Therapist, School Counselor, an English Language Education Teacher. While caseload data is not tracked by the state, Needham has reached out to neighboring communities to share data. In comparison to these communities, Needham caseloads are consistently higher, and often the highest. FTE requests are intended to make caseloads more consistent across Needham Schools and closer to target ranges seen in other towns.

Special Education Teachers

  • 2.9 Elementary Special Education Teachers (.8 Eliot, 1.0 Williams, .1 Mitchell, 1.0 Newman)

  • .5 Reading Teacher (Pollard)

  • .3 Special Education Coordinator (Eliot)

Specialized Programs

  • 1.0 Autism Program SpEd Teacher (Pollard)

  • .59 Autism Program Teaching Assistant (Elementary)

  • 1.0 Transitions Special Education Teacher (HS)

  • .5 Connections Program Psychologist (Broadmeadow)

Social Emotional Behavior Support

  • 1.0 Board Certified Behavior Analyst (Broadmeadow, Eliot, Mitchell)

  • 1.1 School Counselors: (.2 Mitchell, .4 Pollard, .5 HS)

English Language Learning (ELL)

  • .1 ELL Teacher (Mitchell)

Special Education Related Services & Support Staff

  • .2 Speech Therapy Assistant (Newman)

  • 1.59 Teaching Assistants (.59 Elementary, 1.0 Pollard)

(school breakdowns in parentheses based on 12/10 school budget request, may be subject to change)

A Public Hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, January 21. Members of the community are invited to comment at the meeting and/or can by email:

Information Items

The meeting packet contained:

  • 2019 MCAS Scores - Comparable Community Comparisons

  • FY21-35 Final Enrollment Projection

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