LIVERMORE FALLS — RSU 36 directors hired a licensed social worker and a behavioral education technician Thursday for the Crossroads behavioral services program it shares with Jay.

The two school systems have taken over the program to serve students.

The positions of the social worker and behavioral specialist were formerly provided by Evergreen Behavioral Services for the in-school program but MaineCare halted that practice, RSU 36 Special Education Director Wendy Moreau told the school board.

The board voted to hire Michelle Smith, who is a licensed social worker through the Maine Department of Social Services. She currently provides services for the program and was part of developing the program since the beginning, Moreau said.

They also hired Josh Allbee as the behavioral technician. Both positions were posted within the school systems.

Special education teacher Christina Bamford and education technician Maureen Calgoni provide the education piece of the program.

The school program, currently housed at Jay High School, serves seven students in grades five through 12 from both districts, and three from other school systems, Moreau said. The latter systems pay tuition for its students to attend.

There are also two referrals for students from other school systems who need to be screened to see if they could be accepted into the program for a potential of 12 students, Moreau said.

Formerly RSU 36 paid Evergreen $65,000 for their services and billed Jay for its share. The three entities have partnered since 2008 to serve students in need of mental health services.

The two school systems provided the special education teacher, special education technician and the space, and Evergreen provided the social worker, behavioral specialist and an on-call psychiatrist, Moreau said.

“We are able to sustain the program because of the three out-of-district students,” she said. “We are still hoping for MaineCare reimbursement to come in.”

This year the cost is $150,000 for the program, next year it is estimated to cost $160,000, Moreau said.

Both Moreau and Jay Special Education Director Tina Collins oversee the program.

The two districts learned in late summer 2010 that MaineCare changes would only allow schools to apply for reimbursement for these type of programs, Moreau said.

Previously, under the agreement with the two systems Evergreen was paid $65,000 and they could apply for reimbursement through MaineCare, she said.

The schools were told not to worry about the issue by the state but it became worrisome when they noticed that no schools were getting reimbursed from MaineCare, Moreau said.

“The MaineCare reimbursement really hit us for a loop,” Moreau said.

MaineCare pays for the medical piece to assist students with mental health and emotional well being, she said.

Between the two superintendents, Sue Pratt and Bob Wall, Moreau and Collins, and many sleepless nights, a plan was made to keep the program going and supported by the school systems. RSU 36 is the fiscal agent and any money coming and going out comes through it, Superintendent Sue Pratt said.

If the program wasn’t kept going local, Moreau said they could face costs of $50,000 or more for each student they would have to place at an out-of-district system, not including travel expenses.

That would also take the students out of the district away from their friends and their regular school routine.

With this program in place, “Students don’t have to go away and they can stay within the district to go to school,” Moreau said.

Students attend regular classes at the schools and participate in sports programs and other extracurricular activities.

Since 2008, three students have graduated from the program with a high school diploma from either Jay or Livermore Falls high schools, Moreau said. Three more are scheduled to graduate this year, she said.

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