Special ed cuts down on travel needs

By on April 23, 2009

Program changes allow for fewer student trips between buildings
by Lynn Meredith
Retiring Special Education Director Marilee Geene provided the Kaneland School Board an overview of the Special Education programs at its meeting April 13. She projected the numbers of students expected in special education for 2009-10 and introduced new programming.

The majority of the roughly 400 students assigned to special education classes fall into the Cross Categorical Resource category. A student may spend anywhere from 20 minutes or longer with a teacher for instruction in reading and math. Next year, the middle and high school will each have about 100 students who fall into this category, while the elementary schools will have approximately 25 students.

“These are students who must be able to do grade level work, but who have holes (in their abilities),” Geene said.

The next category on the continuum is the Cross Categorical Instructional program. In line with the state’s requirement for the least restrictive environment, this new category will provide more intense help to students with deficiencies in reading and math.

“We have not previously had programs for students with significant needs in reading and math. These were students who were typically put on a bus and taken elsewhere or scattered around the district,” Geene said.

With this new program, the students with significant needs in reading and math will go to a grade-level classroom in the district for instruction. Rather than classes of two or three students at each building, all students of a certain age-level in the district will go to the same building. So, for example, the eight students who are assigned to Integrated Readiness at the kindergarten age level would attend class at Kaneland John Stewart, and the nine students assigned to instructional grades three through five would attend Kaneland McDole.

Geene said that parents seem pleased with the changes because it decreases the number of times their children are interrupted during their day and moved to another location.

“We had a student who made 19 transfers in one day,” Geene said. “The in and out of the classroom causes a lot of disruption during their day.”

Thirty-seven students will require out-of-district programming, although the number is down from past years.

“As we create programs, we dwindle these numbers,” Geene said.