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White County To Bring In Behavior Specialists For Elementary

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
White County To Bring In Behavior Specialists For Elementary

The White County School Board voted Thursday night to insert behavioral health specialists into district elementary schools.

Board Chair Bob Young said these would neither be school employees nor contractors. He said the therapists would work with students whose parents requested the service, and the fee would be paid through that parent’s insurance. Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said the program could be especially helpful for students with autism.

“This came out of a need,” Dronebarger said. “A call from teachers. A cry from teachers saying that we need help with behaviors. We did a number of different other things as well, but this is just one more layer that teachers were saying, ‘We want these folks to come in and work with our students because they help a considerable amount.’”

Dronebarger said he expects to see many other school systems begin to follow suit when they see the benefit the program has on behavior. Total ABA Therapy Services can provide assistance for students Pre-K and up, but White County will pinpoint elementary students to try to correct behaviors before students move on to middle school.

“I did run this by our board attorney and we talked about this and he questioned the issue of instruction time, and are we missing on those things, and even when those things were happening,” Dronebarger said. “But he said that even though that’s a little bit out of the box for us to be doing that, that really, he felt like we were leading in this area.”

Dronebarger said the service will only be provided to parents who request it for their child. He said instead of sending kids to the doctor in the middle of the day, the same service can be provided at the school. Board Member Tracy Fowler said this is a very positive, highly needed program.

“I just think it’s a blessing,” Fowler said. “I think it’s great.”

Dronebarger said each specialist will be put through a background check to make sure they are the right fit for the school system.

In other business, the board voted to begin accepting credit cards at White County High School. Young said the ROTC at the high school was up for a contribution from the National Guard, but the National Guard can only make payments through credit cards.

“The concept of taking that form of payment would also be convenient for some other revenue collections that take place across the district and give some other options for our patrons,” Young said.

Dronebarger said a card reader would likely be used in concession stands or for buying tickets at athletic events.

The board also approved a budget amendment to purchase some 95 percent of the books and other materials for a low-ratio, high-dose tutoring program specially crafted to serve students who did not meet the standards outlined in the state’s new third-grade reading law.


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