Special Ed expenses up at Piqua Schools


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

PIQUA — Special education expenses are up by 9.3%, said Jeremie Hittle, treasurer for the Piqua School District, during the Piqua City Schools Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22.

During his monthly financial report, Hittle indicated the amount of special education students has increased in the last few years, and this year, the district is estimated to spend $770,000 more on the program than it did last year.

“When I got to the district 11 years ago, the number was close to 18% that were identified as special Ed; we’ve worked on that, making sure that our identification was correct. And through that whole process, we got closer to 12%. And now COVID hit, and we’re back to 16.8%,” he said.

Hittle asserted that the influx of more special needs children causes more special education teachers and programs to be needed.

“You have to provide services, and they’re not cheap. There’s an overload of kids right now who need the services. So, we’re trying to do what we can here and build out some programming for that,” Hittle said.

Piqua Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said that while COVID-19 was a probable factor in the increase, there were some additional aspects to consider.

“We’ve talked a lot before; it’s the nature of what’s happening while the kids are given technology and cell phones instead of books. Sometimes, they’re not socializing as much as they used to because they might be sitting at a table using technology versus conversation, so those are all things that affect their developmental ability to communicate,” Thompson said.

During the superintendent’s report, Teresa Anderson, director of curriculum for K-6 schools, presented the kindergarten registration for the 2024-2025 school year.

“Parents, if you have a child that will be five on or before Aug. 1, they can be registered for kindergarten. Registration will open on Friday, March 1, and this time, parents are asked to contact Springcreek Primary, Washington Primary, or the Board of Education to set up a time for one of our registration events,” Anderson said.

Springcreek Primary will hold registration events on Tuesday, April 16, from 5 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 20, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Washington Primary will hold registration events on Saturday, April 13, from 9 to 11 a.m. and Tuesday, April 23, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

“At those events, there will be people to help parents complete the online registration process through the FinalForms,” Anderson said.

Documents needed for registration will include a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, a copy of the parent’s photo ID, proof of residency, and any legal paperwork showing the child’s custody. Parents can also bring any physical or immunization records.

During the meeting, the board approved the personnel agenda, which included Lauren Mitchell as a long-term substitute teacher for the 2023 to 2024 school year, effective Jan. 29, at a rate of $200 per day.

The board also approved Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) for the following employees: Maria Siegel from her position as ELA teacher at Piqua Junior High School from approximately March 28, 2024, through the remainder of the school year; and Nathanael Toon from his position as Network Facilitator starting on Feb. 5 for approximately four weeks.

Finally, the board approved of the resignation of the following: Tabitha Kohler as TR-5 effective on Jan. 26; Brian Gillespie as a teacher at Piqua High School effective at the end of the 2024 school year; and Kevin Reeder as BC-2 custodian at Piqua Central Intermediate School effective Feb. 13, 2024.

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