March is MRDD awareness month. There are many great activities scheduled for which I encourage your attendance. The Board is currently in the process of developing a 10 year strategic plan. This plan is possible through the generous tax payers’ passage of our 10 year operational levy, in 2008. I want to remind you that we have a school levy that will be placed on the ballot in November 2009. The school levy is a 1 mill, 3 year renewal, operational levy which generates approximately $500,000. I also wanted to add that a parent reported just the other day that “I do not know what I would do without Carroll Hills School, my son has come out of his shell and made improvements I was not sure were possible”. Comments, like this, make all the work our wonderful staffs do extremely worthwhile.
The Board was hit hard this year with state budget cuts and increased costs. State budget cuts in revenue to county board led to internal budget cuts in supplies, equipment, training, over time, and freezes on contract employees raises. It is very difficult to absorb budget cuts when there is little fat to eliminate. The Board has made it clear, that their desire is to protect services as much as possible during these difficult economic times.
Management has asked staff for input on possible budget cuts. Management has also looked at ways to increase revenue and decrease costs. The Board is asking for your input on proposed budget cuts because they will be affecting services. We are under a directive to decrease cost through collaboration and elimination of duplication of services. One proposed budget cut is to decrease transportation costs through having school districts transport their students to our school. The Board would provide bus aides to, for example, Carrollton Schools to transport their children to Carroll Hills School. This would eliminate Board costs for diesel, bus maintenance, bus purchasing, and bus drivers. The current transportation system is a duplication of services since Board owned busses travel the same roads as Carrollton School busses.
The Board is also in collaboration with local school districts for reimbursement of therapy services. In the past, we were able to bill directly for therapy services. However when the Community Alternative Funding System was eliminated in 2005, the Board had to pay the total cost of therapy services. The Federal Government has recently approved a new Medicaid billing system in which school districts can access. In this system, MRDD schools can not directly bill, but can get reimbursed through contracts with school districts.
A copy of the proposed strategic plan will be placed on our website. The Board is asking for your input on what services the Board should fund. We would also like to hear your comments on proposed collaboration with Carrollton Schools and maybe other school districts such as Brown and Minerva to reduce bus route duplication and costs. The Board is also in the process of gathering information through surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of current services and what services should be provided in the future. Please provide your input and if you have any questions feel free to call me at 330-627-6555. I appreciate your support of this wonderful program.