Mr. Nathan Levenson, President of the District Management (DM) Group, flew in from Massachusetts last week to speak to the school board about hiring his company to provide an audit of the district’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services and provide recommendations and guidelines on how to improve them. The cost of the audit would be $85,000 per year for three years, with a funding source of medicaid dollars.
Deputy Superintendent Heather Martin stated that the review by District Management Group would provide additional tools and resources for ESE staff especially in the area of scheduling.“Our goal first and foremost is to help you help your students succeed at ever high levels,” said Levenson. He explained that the largest district they work with has over 1 million students, while the smallest has around 800. The DMGroup was founded in 2004.
School Board Member Gus Guadagnino, asked for some background information on how they got to where they are now.
Martin remarked that 25% of the staff budget is spent on ESE staff while ESE students are 13 percent of the student body. She stated, “We continue to spend more resources and it hasn’t changed the outcome [of achievement].”
Guadagnino stated that he needed more data from the company about success rates before he could commit.
School Board Member Beth Naverud felt that the board needs more input from ESE staff.
She asked, “Have we reached out to the teachers to this department to look at internal solutions- teachers may be able to provide us with the insight to determine whether this is a service that we need?” Adding, “Without that, I don’t know I’m comfortable with this.”
School Board Member Duval was not comfortable moving forward without a Request for Proposals (RFP), although not required by law. The Board as a whole agreed on this note and instructed staff to develop the RFP, while reinforcing their commitment on improving ESE services.