Board receives update on Early Childhood Education
A De Soto USD 232 meeting Monday drew than 200 parents, teachers and students, many of them questioning planned changes in the school district’s early-childhood education program.
But for now, it appears the changes will stand.
During the patron input portion of the meeting, which had been relocated to Starside Elementary, the parents once again urged the board to reconsider changes in the early-childhood program at Countryside Learning Center. The program has come under scrutiny after the announcement last month of a restructuring that eliminates five full-time lead teachers from the program.
One parent, Lisa Burns, said she was thrilled with the program but questioned the changes announced last month.
Burns said she didn’t think the changes would benefit children.
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 and using a licensed special education teacher and a paraprofessional to pick up their duties.
Susan Nimrod spoke to the board about her 3-year-old son, who has been diagnosed with glaucoma.
Nimrod said her family was pleased with Countryside and the help her son has received from teachers. She lobbied the board to reconsider and evaluate how changes would affect children.
The board did not respond to the public comments at Monday’s meeting.
Allison Anderson, coordinator of Countryside Learning Center, gave the board an update and overview on the program’s staff, schedule and activities for the next school year.
Anderson outlined the staffing plan and responsibilities of staff members.
Five full-time speech pathologists work with students with speech and language concerns.
The pathologists provide special services for students, such as instruction for individuals or small groups and special programs developed to address speech and language delays.
Four full-time early childhood special education teachers can work in the same capacity. They also manage day-to-day planning for students.
Itinerant staff will include a school psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist and physical therapist.
A staff-generated list of activities for the program for 2009-1010 remained the same as for the current year.
Of concern to some parents speaking Monday was what they perceived as a lack of communication between school administrators and parents.
Rachel Miller, parent, said a lack of information from the administration on the early-childhood special education program propelled her to contact an administrator of special education for a meeting last year. However, the administrator said it was impossible to meet with each parent of a child with an individual education plan.
Miller said she didn’t have suggestions or recommendations, only that she wanted to learn more about the program from the administrator.
“I felt like she did not care about what I had to say,” Miller said.
Other patents questioned the way restructuring was handled, without input from parents.
Lisa Eaton said parents of Countryside students received a vague and misleading survey a few months ago. Still, she was unaware changes were being made until after the board was notified in March.
Anderson said six parents have contacted the program to enroll students for next year. She said many didn’t know the district offered such a program until just recently.