According to the Saugerties Central School District’s (SCSD) Pupil Personnel Services department, students are having their social, emotional and physical needs well looked after.
During a meeting of the SCSD Board of Education held on Tuesday, November 8, Director of Pupil Personnel Services Lisajane Kappler and school psychologist and administrative intern Kayla Lamb discussed the district’s services, which includes six school psychologists, one permanent and one contracted physical therapist, five social workers, five speech therapists, three contracted occupational therapists and a pair of social workers and three classrooms available through the Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center.
The SCSD also has seven guidance counselors, six district nurses and two out-of-district contracted nurses.
The School Board meeting was held at the former Mt. Marion Elementary School, which since its closure at the end of the 2021-22 school year the district has, among other uses, repurposed as a pre-K hub. According to Kappler, the pre-K program has been at or near its capacity of 80 students since opening in September.
“The kids are great,” Kappler said. “We now have no one crying in the morning. The first week was a little tough. We had one little boy who was just screaming, ‘I love you, mom!’ for a long time. And then she started having the grandpa drop him off, and that ended. So they’re really enthusiastic.”
Kappler added that the pre-K students have been studying the life cycle of pumpkins as a science experiment, have used their favorite apples in a math lesson, and are opening an art show with 180 people signed up to attend.
“The kids were really excited that they got to do their own art show,” Kappler said. “It was really cute.”
The presentation also drew comparisons between the current school year and 2021-22, with a total of 126 students across the district currently in occupational therapy, one fewer than last year.
“So overall, if you look at the total number for O.T. it kind of stayed the same,” said Lamb, though she stressed that those numbers are based on the amount of students rather than the frequency they use the services. “So 46 students at Cahill receive O.T., but some get it two or three times per week or cycle.”
The same is true of physical therapy (50 students, compared to 45 last year), counseling services (131 students, compared to 125 last year), and speech and language therapy (161 students, compared to 168 last year).
“Physical therapy, we see a slight increase, but nothing alarming, nothing huge,” Lamb said. “We don’t have any out-of-district physical therapy needs at this time, so all of the physical therapy needs are coming from the district.”
The presentation also provided numbers of students who are home tutoring, with three each at the elementary and middle school level, and ten at Saugerties High. There are 64 home schooled elementary school students in Saugerties, 19 in junior high and 45 in high school. There are also six students who are currently hospitalized, two at the elementary level and four in high school.
The district is also still doing COVID tracking, with 57 cases reported in September and 29 in October. The vast majority of reported cases have been among students, particularly at Saugerties Jr. and Sr. High, while there has been a total of 17 teachers and staff testing positive. But Kappler said the figures aren’t as precise as they might have been in the past.
“Sometimes we don’t know about it, and then the county contacts me and says we have an active person,” she said. “So then we try to track. So it’s a little bit harder in that sense to really have a good idea of what we really have. With all the home tests, although it’s great and people are picking them up all the time, they’re not necessarily reporting it. They might keep their kid at home, but they’re not always sending (results) in to the county.
There are 67 ELL (English Language Learners) students in the SCSD, with Spanish, Nepali, Thai, Panjabi and Chinese among their first languages. In addition to in-school language studies, Kappler said she hopes parents at home are able to make use of programs offered to children.
“We just started (language learning software) Rosetta Stone and the students are getting logged onto that,” Kappler said.“And the hope is with our licenses that the parents can also log on. So hopefully the parents can use it too at home for English.
Kappler also updated the amount of students receiving federal aid under the 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The SCSD currently has 35 students with displaced housing, all but one of them doubled up, meaning more than one family residing in the same house. Six of the district’s unhoused students are unaccompanied youth, meaning they don’t live with their parent or guardian.