Batesville Community School Corporation superintendent Paul Ketcham explains the decision.
(Batesville, Ind.) - Another southeastern Indiana school district is leaving the Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative.
Batesville Community School Corporation has notified ROD of its decision to part ways with the cooperative at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. A more formal letter is expected to be submitted by March 1, the deadline to give notice of leaving after the following school year according to the interlocal agreement establishing ROD.
Batesville is the second local school corporation to announce it is leaving the ROD Special Education Cooperative. Sunman-Dearborn Community Schools’ Board of Trustees voted to do so on February 14.
Word of Batesville’s departure came out in a February 19 letter (PDF) from ROD director Dr. Alex Brewer.
“All ROD services will continue uninterrupted to all member schools including Sunman-Dearborn and Batesville schools until the date of official withdraw on June 30, 2020. At that time, Sunman-Dearborn and Batesville Schools will assume responsibility for providing all Special Education services currently provided by ROD in their districts. ROD will continue to serve all its member schools without disruption,” Brewer stated in his letter.
Brewer said ROD parents and teachers should be encouraged that while there will be organizational changes due to the withdrawals, the changes will not impact the services they receive.
Batesville Community School Corporation superintendent Paul Ketcham explained the decision to as one he feels is best for the district’s special education students.
“Our special education students are our most vulnerable. We owe it to them to not do the easy thing and stay with the status quo, but to try something different and really move the needle on special education,” Ketcham told Eagle Country 99.3.
Earlier this week, Ketcham explained further to The Batesville Herald-Tribune that the ROD funding formula is complex.
“The ROD cooperative is based on a model from the 1970s, and that model has remained relatively unchanged for 40 years. BCSC is focused on the ability to leverage local dollars most impactfully for our special education students. Our goal is simple, to leverage financial resources on a local level to move the needle for special education students,” he told the newspaper.
BCSC is now in the process of reviewing and evaluating special education programming.
“This process is focused on one thing, assessing and providing quality services to special education students that enhance and improve their achievements and outcomes. We owe it to our most vulnerable students to create an environment of achievement,” said Ketcham, adding the move is not an attempt to capture cost savings.
The financial reasoning is similar to that given by Sunman-Dearborn Community Schools superintendent Andrew Jackson in his recommendation to the S-DCSC Board of Trustees earlier this month.
The two districts may have been considering the move since last fall. According to ROD Board of Directors meeting summaries, Jackson and Ketcham has requested data to review ROD funding and operations in October.
Both Jackson and Ketcham have resigned as president and vice president of the ROD Board of Directors. Ketcham said he will still serve on the board through next school year, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to remain in a leadership role considering the decoupling.
Other local school districts participating in ROD include Jac-Cen-Del, Lawrenceburg, Milan, Rising Sun-Ohio County, South Dearborn and South Ripley. There has been no indication those school districts may be considering withdrawal from the cooperative.
Established in 1972, ROD provides services to approximately 2,800 students ages 3 to 22, according to its website.