The Southwest Licking school board met July 21 to approve policies for the coming school year and various personnel contracts.

The Southwest Licking school board met July 21 to approve policies for the coming school year and various personnel contracts.

Board member Cindy Zaino challenged a contract for professional services for review of IEPs, individual education plans established under federal law for students with disabilities.

Zaino said the current contract should be approved but that going forward the district should bring such functions inside, for staff to perform.

"When I look at the cost of $37.75 per hour, that's more than the cost of someone who is providing our children with counseling at $35 an hour," Zaino said. "This is to monitor IEPs. I wish that was something being done by our own staff and I feel it should be done by our own staff."

Zaino said such plans are highly individualized and closely involve teachers, so teachers should perform the work.

"I could vote for that for one more year, but never again," Zaino said. "I feel that is something we should be staying on top of. If you are trained as a special-education teacher, that should be your forte, working with kids and writing IEPs and following them to the letter of the law."

Board member Don Huber said such services might also be obtainable by the district in conjunction with educational service centers and joint agreements with other districts to share costs.

"I've been thinking over the last few months, ever since we started working with our current budget and its financial implications, about where we can work with other districts and come to some combined work with Licking Heights or Lakewood or someone who is close to us, not someone on the other side of the state," Huber said. "Is this an area where there could bring synergies with other school districts?"

Zaino said some districts in the state were beginning to share high-cost services, such as superintendents.

"We see districts, not our size, but smaller districts, sharing superintendents, doing big work and important work," Zaino said. "It's very important that we look at sharing services like that."

"We have jobs that are not full-time jobs," Huber agreed. "Our district is small enough that we don't have a full-time position, but it's large enough we need the work done by somebody.

"It may not be the most efficient way to select people and I keep wondering, if we can't work out an arrangement with other districts for one-third or two-thirds or half and half, something like that. I know the (educational service center) is a player in all of this.

"We could look at synergies, especially with our part-time professional positions."

In other business, the board approved the purchase of three buses at a cost of $74,200 and a number of policies covering board administration and district operations.