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Report from the OSPA Executive Director: Remaining current, focused, and responsible.

OSPA Working For You…

This year has been a busy one, and your association has been advocating on several fronts for school psychologists and the students they serve. We are grateful for your continued membership and sup¬port of OSPA, and hope that you will share the value of membership with your colleagues.

Many of you may not be aware of the operational costs necessary to maintain the services OSPA provides. The OSPA officers thought it would be appropriate to explain both the value of the services as well as the costs. Operational costs have increased over time, due to inflationary increases in certain fixed costs of doing business such as office rent, supplies and staff salaries. As our costs have gone up we have not had commensurate dues increases to offset them and have increas-ingly relied on conference profits to pay for many of our increased operational costs. Indeed we have only had one dues increase in the last 20 years.

We are now at a time when we must consider proposing a dues increase; however, we feel it is important first to thoroughly explain to our members the financial facts related to maintaining a small but mighty association. We will provide in this article key budget information as well as a re¬minder of what services we provide, making it clear just what the value of membership in OSPA means.

OSPA runs on a yearly budget of approximately $243,500. The major yearly expenditure categories are: staff salaries and related expenses for the Executive Director and Business Manager, approximately $83,000; office rent, $12,000; fall and spring conference overhead costs (they vary depending on attendance), approxi¬mately $43,000; and the overhead costs related to publishing The Ohio School Psychologist, approximately $20,000. These expenditures alone make up 65% of the yearly budget.

Added to these major budget items are the remaining items. These categories include such expenditures as: NASP con¬ference registration and donations, executive board planning conference expenses, executive board meeting expenses, insurance bonds, website expenses, payroll taxes, accountant fees, office equipment repair and service charges, postage, office supplies, phone, and bank/credit card charges.

The OSPA staff and officers as well as two appointed members serve as the Fiscal Advisory Committee (FAC). Under the direction of the OSPA Treasurer, the FAC is charged with monitoring the fiscal aspects of managing the operations of the association. After careful review during this past year it is apparent that in order to continue to provide valuable services we need to contain our costs as well as produce more revenue. Accordingly the FAC has already taken action to do both. They proposed a 2013-2014 budget that cut several line items including: fall and spring conference overhead costs, executive board and officers expenses, committee allocations, TOSP expenses, donations, committee funds, and office supplies and copier expenses. This resulted in a savings of approximately $14,000. FAC and the OSPA staff also plan to seek less expensive office space and will make a decision regarding this early in 2014.

Additionally, OSPA staff, conference chairs and FAC calculated the fall conference fees based on a financial spreadsheet which plugged in the total overhead costs, along with attendance assumptions, and projected budget profit figures. We will use this data driven process from now on to more prudently manage costs and to better assure that we make our projected budget profits.

Even with these responsible decisions it will be necessary to propose a membership dues increase. In the next couple of months the FAC and the Executive Board will develop a reasonable proposal that will need an approval vote of the membership at the spring conference business meeting. What value do you get for an OSPA membership? We likely do not report to you often enough regarding what your membership dollars buy. To name just a few obvious benefits:

  • Advocacy for the school psychology profession across the State of Ohio with numerous stakeholders and partners
  • Advocacy which ensures the continued state funding of the school psychology intern program, one of only three armarks included in the state education budget
  • The extraordinary OSPA publication, The Ohio School Psychologist, which is nationally regarded as one of the best state association journals
  • Access to over 450 colleagues on our well managed listserv
  • The excellent professional developmentopportunities via our fall and spring conferences
  • A terrific web site with many resources available to apprise members of state activity that impacts on their jobs
  • Exceptional resources prepared by the OSPA Crisis Committee, also available on the web site Discounts on conference registration
  • Robust opportunities for networking, sharing of resources, and partnering with school psychology practitioners throughout the state.

Let’s just take a snapshot of a few months out of 2013, which detail the state presence of OSPA, a presence that would not be possible without your membership support.

State Legislative Activity: Ann Brennan, OSPA Executive Director, beginning in February and ending late June, attended all education budget hearings in both the Senate and House, as well as all meetings of the House and Senate Education Committees. In addition to assuring the continued funding of the Ohio school psychology intern program, the only one of its kind in the nation, OSPA had to focus on the reinstatement of the school psychology ratio, (ORC 3317.15 (F), which was removed from HB 59, as introduced by the Governor. OSPA worked diligently, and met with all the members of the House Finance Education Subcommittee, as well as important House staff members, to describe the unique and important services provided by school psychologists. Additionally, OSPA staff organized and helped prepare testimony presented by several OSPA members from around the state, in key House members’ districts. Our effort paid off, as the Chairman of the committee supported an amendment to preserve the ratio.

At the request of Senate Education Chairwoman Peggy Lehner for a special joint hearing on school safety and school based mental health OSPA organized testimony and OSPA member panelists.

OSPA was one of three selected groups to serve on a panel advocating for improved school based mental health services. The education value of presenting this type of information to over 25 key members of the Senate was priceless, as it set a foundation for future advocacy for improved school based mental health services.

Ohio Department of Education Activity: The Office for Exceptional Children, ODE requested that OSPA provide input into the revised Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities. OSPA staff solicited input from the OSPA listserv and from the Executive Board, and submitted suggested revisions, including keeping the reference to the school psychology ratio, even though it is referred to by the statute citation.

OSPA also was invited to participate in the Ohio Gifted Education Advisory Committee, who was tasked with responding to and revising the draft gifted education rules, which are up for the 5-year rule review. The committee met several times beginning last April, and suggested revisions to the ODE draft rules. OSPA solicited input from members throughout this process, and expressed their concerns and suggested revisions.

State Board of Psychology Activity: OSPA was also invited to participate in two important SBP Work Groups in the last year. One met to draft revised SBP rules which were in need of an update; this resulted in HB 83 being introduced, which is expected to be enacted in the legislature by the end of 2013. The revisions include a more current definition of the practice of school psychology, which OSPA helped draft. The second work group convened over the summer months to draft rules prescribed by HB 59, which required the SBP to license Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst professionals. The work group represented a diverse gathering of professions and agencies, as well as parent advocates, including all the critical stakeholders most interested in quality services for children and adults with autism.

OSPA has already been invited to participate in the HB 83 rule making task force, as once the revised law is enacted, rule revisions will be necessary. This process will begin in 2014. OSPA’s Executive Director attends all meetings of the State Board of Psychology and networks regularly with Dr. Ron Ross the Executive Director of the Board and also maintains a positive relationship with the Board members. OSPA recently nominated Dr. Doug Cole to the State Board of Psychology, and Ann Brennan met with members of the Governor’s staff to discuss our nomination. Dr. Cole was appointed later that week. His experience both having served as a school psychologist in a public school setting for several years, and more recently in private practice will enable him to better understand the views of school psychologist licensees.

OSPA membership funds support these examples of the many advocacy efforts on behalf of Ohio’s school psychologists. OSPA committee members volunteer countless hours of their time to further OSPA’s mission, of providing academic and behavioral support services to students and school districts. Much of the work OSPA accomplishes is because of these dedicated members. We also establish work groups to address specific issues; currently we have a work group, organized by OSPA and comprised of related service provider representatives. They are in the process of developing an evaluation tool and rubric that could be used by administrators in evaluating all related service provider professionals. It is being created to align with the OTES and OPES evaluation systems. The tool is expected to be available for use in the 2014-15 school year.

OSPA is only as strong as membership involvement allows, we encourage you to become more involved in OSPA and consider joining a committee. With our revamped web site you can do so electronically, it takes only a few minutes. . Remember OSPA is the only state association that works exclusively for Ohio’s school psychologists: working for you to better the lives of students you serve.

Thank you for your support, and please let us know how we can better serve you.