School administration proposes a significant increase in mental health staff

At the same time that student enrollment at Scarsdale Schools has fallen by more than 200 students, staff have gone the other way, increasing by 52 staff from 596 in 2014 to 648 full-time for the year. school year 2021-22.

This trend is set to continue if the Board of Education approves the administration’s proposal to add more staff for the 2022-23 school year.

During a budget review session on Monday, Jan. 10, the administration proposed adding staff to meet growing mental health needs and implementing a new math curriculum in elementary schools as well as hire an additional cleaner and grounds attendant. The proposal also provides for the transition of 14 part-time office clerks to seven full-time positions. All of these requests would add more than a million dollars to the budget for the next school year.

When asked why mental health and special education needs are increasing in schools, Deputy Superintendent Eric Rauschenbach provided some contributing factors:

-First, the stigma around mental health is decreasing and more students are asking for help.

-The population of students with special needs has increased and over the past five years the program has grown from 10 ICT (integrated co-teaching classes) to 19.

-The pressure to achieve adds to the stress of the students.

-The COVID crisis and remote learning have caused isolation, alienation and depression.

-In addition, the district seeks to provide in-district services to students who were previously relocated at district expense.

Specifically, the administration has proposed the following Tier 1 staffing requests in the 2022-23 school budget.

A primary school math teacher to help the district roll out a new math curriculum aligned with Next Gen standards. This person would work with the current math coordinator. This program is estimated to last only two years. Cost $110,000

A special education teacher to work with students on life skills in the Bridge program, as they transition from elementary to middle school. Cost: $110,000

A psychologist, a special educator and an assistant to staff a new student support program in middle school, similar to a program in high school. The program is designed to “help students manage anxiety and depression while providing coping skills and immediate feedback for certain behaviors. Emphasis is placed on maintaining a stable and positive environment while helping students develop their self-advocacy skills. Cost $235,000.

A Educational technology specialist or computer teacher for middle school to teach computer science and meet technology needs. Cost: $110,000

A full time Social worker be based in the colleges to complement the work of the three Scarsdale Family Counseling Services social workers to provide prevention programs and crisis avoidance. Cost: $110,000

A full time Psychologist for secondary school to meet increased demand for counselling, assessments and treatment for anxiety, eating disorders and more. Cost: $125,000

A full time Secretary to support the school psychologist. Cost: $65,000

A full time Social worker in high school to meet increased mental health needs and “program the school around topics concerning character development, well-being, and mental health.” Cost: $110,000

A district-wide halftime President of the CPSE to match the increase in the number of children with special needs in the district, which rose from 409 in 2016-17 to 562 in 2021-22. Cost $55,000

The administration also asks for a supplement cleaner to high school at a cost of $50,000, an additional field person at a cost of $55,000 and to transition 14 part-time employees office workers into 6 full-time positions.

Board members asked probing questions after Andrew Patrick, Edgar McIntosh and Eric Rauschenbach explained the rationale behind the requests that would add more than $1,000,000 to the budget.

Amber Yusuf inquired about the staffing of the High School Student Support Program and asked if the current staff were handling the request. Rauschenbach said, “This program has been at full capacity since we launched it. We are dangerously close to exceeding staff capacity. About adding a similar program to college, Rauschenbach said, “Expanding this program to college will allow us to step in earlier. And having a “middle school life skills teacher will allow some of these kids to earn a regular high school diploma and gain work experience before graduation.”

Asked how many students this new program would serve, Raushenbach said it would serve “five students moving on to middle school.”

On hiring an elementary math teacher to support the rollout of the new math curriculum, McIntosh said, “The mission should be for the launch and rollout of a new math curriculum and support it at over the next two years.” This new position is in addition to that of another district-wide math support teacher – or “helper” teacher.

Karen Ceske asked: ‘What is the long-term financial impact of the increase in staff. How many of them are tenured or tenure-track positions? Drew Patrick replied, “If it’s full-time appointments, they’re tenure-track.”

Carl Finger said: “We have had a reasonable increase in staffing with declining enrollment over the past five years. Can you show us the different categories of staff that have been added – in addition to breaking them down by school? »

He asked, “Is the math teacher permanent?” Mcintosh said, “He would be a current teacher filling that role for two years.”

Finger also asked, “What will be the total net difference in dollars to move those 14 part-timers to seven full-time positions?” Patrick replied, “The maximum will be $105,000.”

Rauschenbach said he will provide more details on the number of students who transferred to the district during a special education presentation at the next Board of Education meeting. However, he said, “there is approximately a savings of $65,000” for each student who is served in the district, rather than moved.

Bob Klein said, “I understand there is a general trend of moving services and students to the district. Is there a long-term cost analysis of using external providers versus providing services in the district to determine what is most cost effective for functions such as catering and transportation?

Stuart Mattey said that “Yes, the business office does these analyses”

Rauschenback explained the growing need for specialist staff, saying: “Part of the appeal of moving here is our skill set for special needs education – so it continues to grow. We have grown from 10 sections of ICT (integrated co-teaching classes) to 19 sections over the past five years.

Ron Schulhof asked, “Is this proposal to address mental health needs during COVID – or ongoing? Will mental health needs normalize? »

Rauschenbach replied, “We saw trends moving in this direction before COVID, but COVID has increased this trend… otherwise, we wouldn’t be asking for a psychologist and a social worker in high school. We will continue to review these positions. This is not a COVID-specific need.

Schulfhof said: “What is happening with our children in schools? I’d like a deeper dive into what’s going on.

Commenting on school enrollment projections, Patrick said, “Right now we’re at 4,612 students. Registration is based on replacing the outgoing senior class with the incoming kindergarten class. The trend has been towards smaller kindergarten classes compared to graduating classes. For next year, we plan the same number of sections as this year.

On the issue of increasing the number of cleaners, Stuart Mattey said: “Our enhanced routine that we used during COVID has become our regular routine. That’s why we ask for additional cleaners.

This presentation was a first request, the first of a series of budget meetings in the coming months. Watch the presentation here.