School district to save $100,000 out of general fund by not replacing administrator

Brown County Schools will no longer have a director of student services, and that decision is saving the district more than $100,000.

Director of Student Services Alan Kosinski
Director of Student Services Alan Kosinski

Those job responsibilities will be split among four administrative staff, principals and certain lead teachers once Al Kosinski retires this summer.

The savings will help the district’s general fund, which pays teachers and staff. The state pays a school district “tuition support” for each student it educates, and that money goes into the general fund.

Within the past year, Brown County Schools has cut nearly $1 million from that budget due to declining enrollment.

One part-time and 16 full-time jobs were eliminated due to attrition, Hammack said in the fall. She said district leaders have been looking at each position that opens and deciding whether or not it needs to be filled.

“We’re always working on trying to get the general fund back into balance,” Hammack told the school board March 1.

“While I think we’ve celebrated the fact that the budget cuts that we made last year were needed and have actually made the impact we were hoping, we’re still not quite where we want to be yet.”

It would be easier on district leaders to hire someone to replace Kosinski; however, it was more responsible to look at how the job could be done by existing employees, she said.

The plan is for those duties to be split among Hammack, Director of Student Learning Debbie Harman, ROI district readiness coordinator Christy Wrightsman, district nurse Holly Gordon and other people such as building principals. Most of them will receive a bump in pay for the extra duties; the principals and Hammack will not.

Kosinski was earning $129,969 a year, including benefits. After giving raises to people getting extra duties, the total savings for the district is projected at about $101,000 per year.

“That’s a significant cost value for the district to be able to realize,” Hammack said.

Under the reorganization plan, Hammack will lead monthly meetings with instructional team leaders in special education. Those new team leaders will be chosen from among existing staff.

“We’ve never had that (monthly meeting) before, and I think that’s been one of our challenges is that we really don’t have a strategy for communication,” Hammack said.

The other duties Hammack will pick up include writing grants, ordering special education supplies, conducting evaluations and attending case conferences. She chose to receive no extra salary for these duties. Her total contract amount for this school year is $163,641.65.

Harman will receive an additional $4,900 for writing and administering all Title I program grants, leading the Birth to Five Planning Team and supervising and submitting all state reports related to special education data. She also will be responsible for organizing online materials for IEPs — individualized education plans — for students with identified disabilities. With her bump in pay, Harman will earn $95,000 a year. She is contracted to work 260 days per year.

“She’ll be assisting with distribution of information, leading counseling services. We’re adding quite a bit to her load there, so I feel really comfortable that’s an appropriate dollar amount,” Hammack said.

Brown County Schools Regional Opportunities Initiative coordinator Christy Wrightsman will handle hearings for special education students facing expulsion or other disciplinary measures. Discipline was part of Wrightsman’s job when she was assistant principal of Brown County High School. Wrightsman’s current ROI job is grant-funded, at $89,125, and she will receive no extra salary for now, Hammack said.

BCS corporation nurse Holly Gordon will coordinate the school district’s Health and Wellness Team and become the homeless student liaison. She will receive an additional $3,000, which will make her new base salary $51,000.

A lead teacher in special education — who has yet to be hired — will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 for working during this school year and summer to set policies and procedures relating to special education. The lead teacher will get $25 per hour, and the post will be re-evaluated after this school year.

A recent review of Brown County’s program from the Department of Education showed “some indicators that we need to work on,” Hammack said.

Instructional team leaders for special education also will be placed in each building, with each teacher receiving a $2,226 stipend. Along with attending monthly meetings, the teachers would review transition IEPs and participate in ongoing training. They will then be expected to re-teach what they learn to the school building teams.

“We have struggled with communication of new content out to the special education team. There’s been so much the department has thrown at our educators, it is hard for them to sift through material,” Hammack said. “It will be their responsibility to get it out in their buildings. They are going to be kind of like our ambassadors for special ed(ucation), if you will.”

Principals will be required to arrange school transportation for special education students and attend case conferences.

Hammack believes eliminating an administrative job was the right move based on the size of the district.

“I know the board has received negative feedback from the community that we are too top-heavy. I think that with this redistribution we will, I think, be at a very reasonable position for our district,” she said.

School board President Steve Miller Jr. applauded the reorganization plan.

“I think it’s great. Working for Toyota for 25 years, this is Toyota lean management. … You do more with less, that’s just how they operate,” he said. “I would be happy to re-evaluate in a year, but this is fantastic. One hundred grand is one hundred grand.”

Redistribution of director of student services' job responsibilities

Brown County Schools will have one fewer administrator after Director of Student Services Al Kosinski retires at the end of June. This move will save the district’s general fund about $100,000 a year.

Kosinski’s responsibilities will be split among existing employees.

Superintendent Laura Hammack
Superintendent Laura Hammack

Laura Hammack, superintendent

Extra pay: none

  • Leads the implementation of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and Indiana’s special education rules.
  • Leads monthly meetings with special education instructional team leaders.
  • Writes special education and preschool federal grants.
  • Approves and orders supplies and equipment.
  • Approves professional development fees and travel.
  • Attends case conferences.
  • Evaluates the school psychologist, occupational therapist and administrative assistant/receptionist; hires and supervises the occupational therapist and school psychologist.
  • Represents Brown County Schools with Bartholomew Special Services Cooperative. Supervises cooperative personnel.
  • Writes, organizes and supervises service contracts.
  • Coordinates the delivery of special education services to non-public schools in the area, such as New Song Mission.
Director of Student Learning Debbie Harman
Director of Student Learning Debbie Harman

Debbie Harman, director of student learning

Extra pay: $4,900. New base salary will be $95,000 on a 260-day contract.

  • Writes and administers all Title grants: Title I, II, III, IV and V and NESP (Non-English Speaking Program).
  • Leads the implementation of all English learner services.
  • Leads the Birth to Five Planning Team.
  • Coordinates and curates Indiana Individualized Education Plan online data.
  • Supervises and conducts the submission of all state reports related to special education data.
  • Participates in monthly meetings with instructional team leaders.
  • Attends ICASE (Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education) conference.
  • Leads all counseling services (Lilly grant, Naviance, Check and Connect).
ROI district readiness coordinator Christy Wrightsman
ROI district readiness coordinator Christy Wrightsman

Christy Wrightsman, Regional Opportunities Initiative district readiness coordinator

Extra pay: none

• Due process hearing officer for special education student conduct or expulsion hearings.

District nurse Holly Gordon
District nurse Holly Gordon

Holly Gordon, corporation nurse and wellness coordinator

Extra pay: $3,000. New base salary will be $51,000.

  • Serves as the district McKinney-Vento Act homeless liaison.
  • Chairs the Coordinated School Health Program and Wellness Team.
  • Chairs the Brown County “Circle of Care” service team.
  • Administers the Indiana Youth Institute survey.
  • Attends District Support Team meetings.
  • Leads health and wellness initiatives for the district.

Special education lead teacher (not yet chosen)

Extra pay: Up to $5,000 at $25 per hour

  • Serves as lead coordinator for policies and procedures for all systems connected with special education services across Brown County Schools.
  • Attends ICASE conference and other training.

Special education instructional team leaders (one per building at all three elementary schools, junior high and intermediate; two serving high school)

Extra pay: $2,226 stipend each

  • Attends monthly meetings with the superintendent.
  • Coordinates anti-discrimination processes for the building and reviews them annually.
  • Participates in the building intervention team that intervenes prior to a special education referral and serves as the manager of all records, meetings and follow-ups.
  • Reviews transition IEPs (individual education plans) before submission.
  • Participates in professional development opportunities and  re-teaches the information to the building team.

Principals

Extra pay: none

  • Arranges school transportation for special education students
  • Serves as the public agency representative (PAR) for case conferences or arranges for a PAR to serve in his/her absence.
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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.