Board prepares for special needs studentsThe Superior school district expects an influx of special needs students next school year, and the Superior School Board is taking measures to prepare.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The Superior school district expects an influx of special needs students next school year, and the Superior School Board is taking measures to prepare.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, members voted unanimously to approve seven new part-time special education assistant positions. The item was not discussed at last week’s committee of the whole meeting, but superintendent Janna Stevens asked the board to consider it as an action item. She said the matter could be deferred until August but felt it was in the district’s best interest to post the job openings as soon as possible.
“We’ve run into this before in the past where the sooner we can get these approved, the better (applicants) we’ll have,” said Jack Amadio, district business manager.
President Len Albrecht asked if the district anticipated a trend where it would need to add a similar number of positions each year to deal with the increase in special needs students. Stevens said it was likely the district would continue to see higher number of special needs students, but she couldn’t say if the increase would remain at the same level as this year.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, special education director Kathy Hinders gave a report on the self-assessment recently performed by the special education department.
The department was required to perform a self-assessment in the 2008-09 year, and results showed the district was about 40 percent out of compliance, missing targets on 12 items. Board members, concerned about the results, requested the department re-evaluate itself this year after making its adjustments and report back.
Hinders reported the district made progress in each of the 12 areas that it failed to meet standard, but it was still out of compliance for eight of the 12 items.
In five of those eight areas, however, Hinders felt the district actually did meet standards. She said a misunderstanding about some of the forms used caused them to be misread, a problem that can easily be corrected with faculty training.
The special education department improved its scores from four to 55 percent in each of the eight areas.
In other action:
l The Board voted unanimously to approve two other personnel measures: the addition of a secretary position for the administration and business offices and an elementary insight teaching position at Northern Lights Elementary School. The teaching position was new to the agenda Tuesday and will be funded through Northern Lights’ Title I budget.
l Board members also approved numerous changes to district policies. Most were made to align Superior’s policy with newly passed laws.
The district altered language in its human growth and development policy for that reason, but the new language won’t change the district’s sex education curriculum. Stevens said Superior already covers all of the required areas.
A sex education unit is taught as part of the eighth-grade health class, but parents can have their children opt out. At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, board member Bonnie Baker requested additional information about how much time was currently spent on the topic of abstinence. Stevens said in the three-week unit, abstinence is the focus for about three days, though it does come up throughout the course as other birth control methods are discussed.
The board also updated its policy dealing with privacy protections of fully insured group health plans to comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Board member Mary Klun recommended the district also strike language referring to a vision plan or long-term care plan. The district does not provide either, and Klun said it may help prevent future confusion if the policy made that clear.
The measure, with all language alterations, was passed unanimously.
Minor changes were made to four other policies to comply with GINA language, and the district’s hardware and software policy was updated to make it easier to keep all systems compatible and secure.