By Dave Fidlin


After reviewing existing staffers’ workloads and factoring in federal mandates, Whitewater Unified School District officials have decided to allocate funds toward special education services for the remainder of the current school year.

District Administrator Mark Elworthy requested the School Board enter into a $21,000 contract with the Cooperative Educational Service Agency, or CESA, for school psychologist services. The funding allocation was approved at a meeting Dec. 17.

WUSD has on staff two school psychologists, but Elworthy said the district’s needs for such specialized services are “at an all-time high.”

As a public school system, WUSD is held to a number of mandates through the federal government’s Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA.

The mandates under IDEA include completing evaluations for special education students through individual education plans, or IEPs. Elworthy said the timetable for completing the evaluations is short.

“Noncomplying could result in financial penalties to the district,” Elworthy said. “This is important.”

A one-time federal special education grant is helping cover the added expense. Elworthy said additional funds also can come out of a surplus within the district’s budget. In prior years, WUSD had been budgeting higher amounts than expended within the special education fund.

School Board President Casey Judd said the funds were a wise allocation, asserting a belief the current school psychologists are contending with a heavy workload.

“They are killing themselves to make (deadlines),” Judd said.

The $21,000 allocation “gets us through the (school) year,” Elworthy said, but larger questions of how much money WUSD should be appropriating for school psychologist services in the years ahead loom as more students need the amenity.

Plans call for administrators and the board delving deeper into the matter as the process of creating the overall 2019-20 school year budget gains momentum.

Read more from the meeting in the Jan. 3 Whitewater Register.


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