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Warren County Public Schools to add psychologist

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Following approval during last week's school board meeting, Warren County Public Schools will now add a third psychologist to the division.

According to the explanation and summary provided to the board, "an additional 10-month school psychologist position is being recommended due to the increased number of assessments and clinical needs of the schools."

Michael Hirsch, the school divisions's director of special services, said that two years ago cutbacks were made and a third psychologist position was eliminated.

"However, their work load hasn't decreased," he said. "All they're doing is assessments."

Currently there are two 12-month school psychologists, budgeted at around $80,000 each for fiscal year 2012-2013. Hirsch proposed that one of the psychologists be changed to 10 months. He also suggested that one administrative assistant position and an instructional assistant position at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School be eliminated. The two positions are budgeted at a total of around $52,000.

Between the deletion of the two positions and the new psychologist staffing, Hirsch was able to come up with a total savings of almost $11,000.

"It's not about getting the funds for the department as we have such a need division-wide," he said. "We are trying to get as many skilled professionals in place to create mechanisms to help kids be successful before they are evaluated. We want to be creating intervention and lower the amount of referrals our staff sees. We don't want students to be identified as special needs or struggling...that's what it's all about."

Hirsch said he hopes to have the psychologists not only do evaluations of referred students, but also be part of teams at Warren County schools that will come up with creative strategies to help kids earlier on in their academic career.

The request to add a psychologist was neither a response to a growing student population or to an increasing number of student issues, Hirsch pointed out.

"This is one of our 'Response to Intervention' initiatives," he said. "I feel like we can just work smarter."

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