An Extended School Year program for special education and related services could save Palmerton Area School District nearly $13,000 if it were to be held within the district.

The proposal was presented by school psychologists Rob Palazzo and Meghan Garrett, along with Bob Dailey, director of special education, at a workshop meeting of the board of school directors on Tuesday.

Garrett said ESY refers to special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the regular 180-day school year.

In some cases, Garrett said interruption in the school schedule, such as summer break, result in children with disabilities losing many of their basic skills, which takes a long time for them to get those skills back once school begins.

She said ESY services are provided during breaks in the educational schedule to prevent such loss.

Students with severe disabilities, such as intellectual disability; autism; severe emotional disturbance; and multiple disabilities, are the target group for ESY services, Garrett said. However, ESY must be considered for all students with a disability, she said.

Garrett noted there are seven factors which may be considered to determine if a student is eligible for ESY services. All special education teachers assess whether or not a student is eligible to receive ESY services when generating the student's annual IEP, she said.

For students in a target group, a decision must be reached by the end of February, Garrett said.

The IEP team must determine the appropriate service delivery model based on the needs of the student, said Garrett, who added that in the past, students within the target group typically participated in an ESY program facilitated by other programs.

Palazzo said the district would like to propose holding an ESY class for 10 students within the district, which would consist of students that are already in the district-run Life Skills class, as well as other students who are deemed eligible for ESY by his/her IEP team.

The program would take place at Parkside Elementary School, and would work on instructional and social goals, said Palazzo, who noted the students previously participated in other programs.

Palazzo said the cost of the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit program would be $22,499 for classroom ($12,126); transportation ($8,858); and speech and language services ($1,515).

That's compared to the cost of the district program, which would total just $9,731 for a nurse ($1,000); two instructional assistants ($2,000); a teacher ($1,920); insurance and retirement ($1,111); transportation ($3,200); and speech and language services ($500).

The district would save $12,768 if it held its own ESY class, said Palazzo, who added benefits would be that the students would continue to be exposed to the same curriculum that they used during the school year; students would not travel as far; and students would be able to participate in community based instruction within their own community.

The program would run Mondays through Thursdays from July 8 through Aug. 2, for four hours each day. Students would be provided transportation through George's.

Afterward, the consensus of the board was to move forward with the program.