USD 232 asked to override changes to special-ed program
A group of six parents urged De Soto USD 232 Board of Education to override recent changes in the Early Childhood Education program at Countryside Learning Center.
At the March 2 board meeting, a reorganization of the program was revealed that would eliminate five lead teacher positions, dropping the number of teachers in the classroom to a licensed special education teacher and a paraprofessional.
Parents lobbied the board to reconsider the changes for fear that children with Individualized Education Plans would not meet goals without the current one-on-one time with the special education teacher.
Robyn Harmon’s discussed how her daughters serve as peer mentors in the class.
The current program provides “role models” – typically developing students in the classroom. The program description refers to this as inclusive learning.
Harmon said her children and the children with IEPs benefited from the current classrooms.
Pam Sheehan and her son Nathan addressed the board with stories of how Nathan benefited from the program. When Nathan was diagnosed with autism, the family found the USD 232 program was the best for him.
“I learned how to read, write and talk some words,” Nathan said. “Now I do better in reading, I go up each book and each book has more chapters.”
Sheehan said her son would not be the child he is today without the teachers in the program.
Jeffrey and Greta Fuller questioned how a decision was made to restructure the program without anybody knowing.
“It’s unfortunate this is happening in this district,” Greta said. “I know a lot of people move here for the special-education programs.”
Leanna Graham advocated for her 3-year-old son, who recently was diagnosed with autism.
“We moved to De Soto last summer because I was under the impression that the special education program was the best,” she said. “However, the program is changing and that is not in the best interest of these children.”
Board members took no action on the program.
In other business the board:
• Discussed creating a policy for the acceptance of gifts by board members from potential and actual vendors. The board approved changes to Policy C for general school administration.
• Approved changes to the Early Childhood Education Peer Model Fees for the 2009-2010 school year.
• Adopted a resolution that authorizes the public sale of about $25 million in general obligation school bonds.
• Tabled action on the De Soto High School expansion. The board looked at the estimated impact to mill levies if construction were to being in 2011 vs. 2010. Action was tabled so that a timeline for request for proposals and bidding could be brought to the board at its April 20 meeting.
• Adopted a resolution declaring it condemnation necessary for the area from Clare Road to the site of the new elementary school at 58th and Belmont in Shawnee. A licensed survey or professional engineer will conduct a survey and description of the property, and the interest to be condemned. A second resolution will need to be adopted at the April 20 meeting for the acquisition of the property by eminent domain.
• Received an update on a meeting regarding construction management fees paid for school building projects in USD 232 and Gardner Edgerton USD 231. Sharon Zoellner, superintendent, Denis Johnson, director of facilities, and Board members Tim Blankenship and Jim Thomas met with Gardner facilities director Bill Miller to compare construction management costs. The consensus was Gardner paid a construction management fee of 6.15 percent on its project while De Soto USD 512 paid a fee of 6.73 percent for its 2007 school construction. The adjusted difference was $114,900 in additional costs for the De Soto district.