Therapy services for Sampson County Schools’ Exceptional Children’s Program may be in limbo for awhile because of contract matters.
During a Monday night meeting, the district’s Board of Education went into a closed session to discuss contract bids and other matters. After returning, a vote was not made to select a service after a motion was not made for it. The silence was a result of board members who would like to see the bid process become more competitive.
Board Member Kim Schmidlin led a conversation with her colleagues during a previous work session when district officials recommended Carolina Rehabilitation at $88 per hour. Sampson County Schools has a history working with Carolina Rehabilitation and officials say they are pleased with the service.
“It really just comes down to making sure all of the services that we’re providing for Sampson County Schools are quality services, but they’re also in a competitive price range,” Schmidlin said. “That’s really what the RFP (request for proposal) is all about. It’s trying to make sure we’re paying competitive prices for any service or good that’s being provided to Sampson County Schools.”
Now, the Board of Education will have to make some decisions about what direction to go in. After the meeting, Board Chairman Dewain Sinclair said it was a matter of going back to the drawing board.
“We have to review this thing and we have some time,” Sinclair said. “We want to get it taking care of, but we have to make sure that we find a service that Sampson County Schools kids deserve.”
He also alluded to how the board would like to find the best economic option.
Brittany Edwards Kildow, co-owner of Carolina Rehabilitation, responded to concerns.
The business worked with the school system for more than decade and she said it was an honor to serve Sampson. The district contacted the business many years ago after another provider made a decision to stop providing service. Kildow explained that state officials asked them to provide services since they were located in Duplin County, which borders Sampson.
“We have come in and done that since,”she said about a situation dating back to 2005. “And to my knowledge, the position has continued to be posted for you guys to have a staff therapist every since that time.”
“We have been doing this for the needs of the children, in lieu of how some other things may have been presented where it may seem like it’s only about a dollar figure, that is not the case,” she said.
Kildow added that the clinicians in the schools earned advanced master’s or doctorate degrees to provide for the students. She added that regulations and guidelines were followed as well.
“We love your children,” Kildow said. “We love the children in Sampson County just like they are our own.”
From her knowledge, the service never received a written complaint from a parent, the school board or the Exceptional Children’s department.
“We have provided these services to the best of our ability for the needs of your children,” she said.
When it came to treatment costs, she expressed how a state reimbursement for an hour would range from $85 to $91. For evaluations $105 will be added to that.
“The figures are not out the ballpark in my mind,” she said. “But most importantly, it’s not about the money. We’ve been here for the needs of your children in Sampson County related to physical therapy. This has been more of a job and more of a contract for my staff that has been providing the services for your children.”
Out of 42 weeks during the school year, the district was billed a little over 14 hour each week. Therefore, Kildow feels that there has not been any overuse.
Ann Johnson, director of the Exceptional Children’s Program, said it was very important to have services in place since the current contract expires Thursday, June 30. New contracts have to be board approved at the July meeting for the first day in August. Also, background and licensing checks must be completed. Under the regulations of Child Find, the district is obligated to determine if evaluation is necessary and to evaluate students within 90 days of receipt of the referrals, in addition to determining eligibility.
“There are currently students that need to be evaluated early in the month of August in order to determine if they are eligible for services,” Johnson stated. “Without a physical therapist in place we are unable to have those required evaluations completed. Also, any student that has physical therapy as a related service on their IEP must have those service providers and those services in place the first student day of school.”
Johnson said the board directed Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and the Exceptional Children’s department to enter an RFP process for all contract services. The original RFP consisted of bids for several needs including psychology, a bilingual psychologist, behavioral psychologist, nursing and speech-language services. After going through several steps, the bids were presented later during a May meeting, but a request was made to have another bid, which closed June 10.
Psychology services were also debated during the previous work session, but board members came to an agreement to use several professionals to service children for the next academic year.
“The bid from the one behavioral psychologist was rejected but unlike physical therapy was never asked to enter into a second RFP and no reason was given as to why the bid was rejected by the board,” Johnson said.
In the meantime, school officials will work towards a solution for physical therapy before school starts.
We are exploring options to provide physical therapy services for our students,” Bracy said. “Our goal is to secure top quality service for a price that will fit within our budget. We feel confident that we will reach a solution by the start of school.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.