Josette Bailey was named the district’s director of the $10 million, 172-employee department this week.
Bailey, who has been with the Cobb School District for the last 17 years serving most recently as the assistant director of special education at the HAVEN Academy, replaces Jody Drum, who was promoted to serve as the assistant superintendent of special services in June.
“Her (panel interview and evaluation) compiled together to really make her an outstanding candidate for this position,” Drum said of Bailey. “We spoke with others that she not only supervised, but was supervised by and every step we turned, she just did a fabulous job.”
Bailey is bringing 20 years of experience in special education to Marietta. While in Cobb Schools, she served as a special education supervisor/teacher, a professional learning instructor and a student support team coordinator. Her start date is today, and her annual salary will be $103,249.
She is a graduate of Georgia State University, where she earned a doctorate in education. She earned a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in special education from Spelman College.
About Marietta’s special education department
Drum said that, like other departments in the Marietta City school system and statewide, the challenges of the special education department include time, personnel, resources and funding.
One of the major issues is reconfiguring their curriculum for each student to fall in line with the Common Core Standards, while working with less funding each year.
They are accomplishing this with continued professional development training.
The 2013 fiscal budget for the special education department was $10.5 million, said district spokesman Thomas Algarin.
This cost covers personnel, resources and any specific needs for students.
Approximately 57 percent of the annual budget is a combination of state and federal funding, and the remaining balance comes from local funding.
That funding has been reduced annually like many other departments. State funding was almost 4 percent less this past year for Marietta City Schools.
Drum said it would be hard to determine the average amount of money the district spends on a special needs student annually because some students may only need to work with a teacher once a month, while another could need residential placement which can cost as much as $200,000 a year.
“The district could at the upper end have the cost of the student end up in the six figures but it all depends on the need of the student,” she said.
They are also challenged by the number of transfer students and the amount of additional paperwork required of her staff when they have such a high rate of mobility among students.
According to an October 2012 count, Marietta had 836 students in the program, and between two separate counts taken in 2012, had 128 students leave the system and 196 come in.
“For our teachers, we’re talking about paperwork that we complete when a child moves into the system and when they leave the system,” she said. “That’s just hard on our resources.”
Her last challenge has been to find teachers who are qualified in both a content area and working with students with disabilities.