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Greencastle Schools pulling out of ONT

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Greencastle Community Schools will pull out of the Old National Trail special education services cooperative when its contract with ONT expires in June 2010.

"For a couple of years we've been looking at doing this," said Greencastle Schools superintendent Robert Green. "We've been losing students, and our cost (to belong to the co-op) has continued to go up. We came to a conclusion that we could do a better job and be more efficient if we found other ways to provide services to our special needs students."

Green said the Greencastle school district puts about $2 million into ONT annually. Close to 400 Greencastle students utilize services provided by ONT.

"This has had my attention for a couple of years," Green said.

Green said he has asked for studies into services and fees to be done by ONT, but it has never come to pass.

"Obviously we're not satisfied, or we wouldn't be pulling out," he said.

ONT provides physical, occupational and speech therapy to member schools, as well as psychologists and services for hearing and sight impaired students.

"I believe the Greencastle School Board voted 4-0 to pull out," said Nancy Holsapple, ONT executive director. "I was very surprised."

Holsapple said, to her knowledge, Greencastle had been with ONT since the cooperative's beginning in the 1970s. She expressed concern about the school corporation's ability to provide services for its special needs students without the help of ONT.

"It's just really difficult for school corporations to do special needs on their own," she said. "It's very costly."

Green said there would be "no drop in services" to Greencastle's special needs students.

"We have to supply those services," he said. "We don't have a choice."

Green said the decision for Greencastle to pull out of ONT was mostly fiscal.

"We can't print money to pay our bills," he said. "It's time to move on. We're looking at every avenue to save money."

Green said the school corporation had already had a study done to see how much money the district will save by pulling out of ONT, and that the amount is "substantial."

"We're going to be able to save X number of dollars and provide equal or better services," he said. "I've been working on a lot of different things with regard to the budget lately, but this has never been far from my mind."

Green said the decision to leave special needs cooperatives was not something exclusive to Greencastle.

"I know of at least four other districts (in Indiana) that are pulling out of their cooperatives, and I know that others are looking at it," he said. "We're not the only ones who are doing it."

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I would pull out also. 2 million a year is really high, especially when you are sharing these cost with other schools. Several kids are bused to Central Elementary and those buses only have a couple of kids on them. So you have transportation cost, plus the amount being paid to ONT. ONT obviously has trouble keeping track of thier money since they have had 2 occurances of theft. Sounds like a smart move. Now our county schools need to strongly consider consolidation.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 7:03 AM

Are you so sure those $ amounts are correct. Wake up GC parents-Dr. Green gets a fat bonus check if he saves money for the corporation. Does it have to come at the student's expense? Maybe we should cut out the Gifted and Talented program school board members-you would never go for that would you? 1/2 of the members have students in that program. GC-you are making a huge mistake!!!! I hope the other county schools will accept our special education students because GC won't be able to service them!!!

-- Posted by gcparent on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 8:26 AM

The services provided by ONT were very marginal at best. For anyone involved w/the day to day happenings w/these students,it's painfully obvious that money isnt spent wisely,things are done in a fashion to "appear" as if something much more is going on and waste of funds are everywhere.Teachers CAN teach,nurses can nurse,hearing tests,eyes,ect can be done,same as speech. Resources are in place and high cost services are NOT needed. This idea of getting out of ONT is long overdue and other county schools are wise to follow.Schools should be able to get funds to pay for the difference these kids needs just like ONT gets their funds. Accountability SHOULD be in place,unlike it has been.

-- Posted by honestyisbestpolicy on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 8:33 AM

Maybe this had to do with ONT's lack of supervision of it's funds. Why pay in if someone is just going to steal the money.

-- Posted by reeltime on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 9:03 AM

Has anyone ever looked at the cost of Area 30 compared to the cost of ONT? I'm sure the needs are greater at ONT and more students compared to those of Area 30 but there has not been a cost or study done for that area???? What about the Greencastle budget?

-- Posted by specialfriend on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 9:34 AM

First off, 90% of you making comments have no clue how ONT works. Second, Dr. Green does not pay 2 million into ONT not even 1 million. None of this has anything to do with mis-use of funds. It's about him saving money and HIM getting money as a bonus. I would highly advsie anyone who has a child in the Greencastle system in special education to attend a board meeting, contact a board member, contact the director of ONT. Find out the real facts, as I did. Dr. Green has no idea what he's getting into. Teachers for the deaf and blind are few and far between in the state of Indiana. He will not find these teachers, and the state says you have to have them. I am a parent and I am not happy with this decision. Like many school boards, they have no clue how special education works but yet they make decsions. How many school board members have special education students, NONE. They are totally clueless and have only voted by what Dr. Green says. I was told by those in ONT that the study was never ask for. As for the study the GC tax payers paid for was done by an older gentleman who was in special education 30 years ago. I hate to break it to you Greencastle, but rules, laws and childrens diabilities have changed. This can not be done and done by the law.

-- Posted by crazyworldwelivein on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 10:21 AM

I know the cost for Area 30 are high! I do not know how many students they serve in comparison to ONT. You can find out how much your corporation is paying to Area 30 and ONT by calling your Superintendants office.

-- Posted by letmegetbacktoya on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 12:55 PM

I have no doubt that 2 years ago when Dr. Green began this study, the budget for ONT may have been $2 million. But, since that study took place, ONT became it's own corporation. This gave control of most of the ONT teachers and classrooms back to all of the corporations. Those teacher's contracts now belong to those respective corporations. GC current budget for ONT this year is around $500K not the $2million being claimed. A couple years ago ONT had many more teachers on its payroll, now that those employees are on the GC budget, they do not appear on the ONT budget. The $2million is therefore an obsolete figure. So, when GC pulls out of ONT and they report the savings using the new formula, know that some magical bookeeping is taking place. The cost is still there.

-- Posted by IcanSpeak on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 2:36 PM

While you are at it Greencastle, take a look at the amount of money we are wasting at Area 30. Are our high school kids really benefitting from those services.

-- Posted by DRL on Wed, Jan 14, 2009, at 2:47 PM

I have a special needs child in this school system. I am more than a little concerned.

-- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Thu, Jan 15, 2009, at 7:10 AM

As a parent of a child who has been well serviced by ONT I am very concerned- Special Needs kids thrive with stability and a new experimental program will not be good for them . I hope the school corporation has everything in place and organized on day one - I for one will be watching - My child wil lget the services he deserves and not be harmed by the school's money problems- there are many other places they could purge other than from our kids that need the most!

-- Posted by talkymom3 on Thu, Jan 15, 2009, at 3:24 PM

"We came to a conclusion that we could do a better job and be more efficient if we found other ways to provide services to our special needs students."

That's a mighty big IF and easier said then done.

-- Posted by gingb2 on Thu, Jan 15, 2009, at 9:19 PM

If anyone would like to voice their concerns on this issue contact:


We are working on a documentary about the special education program in greencastle indiana for the local radio station.

thank you!

-- Posted by Documentary on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 8:36 PM

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