FARMINGTON — RSU 9 school directors are considering a request to expand the day-treatment program at the high school to allow two middle school students to be served.

If the district is not able to serve the students locally, they would need to be sent out of district at a cost of more than $70,000.

It would be a grade seven through grade 12 program, Paula Leavitt, the director of special services, told the board Tuesday.

Currently, the Mt. Blue High School Day Treatment Program serves students in grades nine through 12.

There are day-treatment programs for students in grades kindergarten through six at the Mallett and Cascade Brook schools in Farmington.

The district would need to hire another special education teacher in order to meet the needs of students, Leavitt said.

“There are 11 students whose mental health needs require small group instruction for academics and social skills in a therapeutic environment,” Leavitt told the board.

Two of these children are middle school students.

“We do not have a therapeutic program at the middle school, and therefore, cannot provide an adequate program for them there,” she said.

Portions of the required staff time would be reimbursable through MaineCare and the Maine Department of Education, she said.

A part-time secretary will focus on billing for those services.

RSU 73 in Jay has a day treatment program for grades seven through 12, as do other districts.

When asked about the issue of some school districts being told they overbilled MaineCare (formerly Medicaid) for student services and needed to repay it, Leavitt said she believes the district would be fine if it were to be audited.

“I believe we have every I dotted and T crossed,” she said.

They are saying you cannot bill for education, she said, but you can bill for therapeutic services.

Superintendent Tom Ward said he has been promised by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to get updated figures to find out what can be billed and what cannot be billed.

If the two middle school students had to be served out of district, it would cost about $37,000 for each of them, not including transportation, Leavitt said.

The district could start the school year with a substitute for the program, if the board approves it, and then hire a teacher, she said.

“The reality is, we have some needs that we need to supply,” Board Chairman Mark Prentiss of Industry said.

This is pretty straightforward, Vice Chairman Claire Andrews of Farmington said.

It would easily cost the district $50,000 for each child, including transportation, she said.

It is also best that the students stay here among their peers to be educated, she said. This idea was echoed by other directors.

Andrews supported hiring another teacher instead of more educational technicians, she said.

The board will make a decision on the program at its Aug. 27 meeting.

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