Today I welcome our Director of Pupil Services, Dr. Mary Rockey, to help readers better understand some changes we’re planning in special education. As you read, please consider that the changes are in the best interest of our children at the same time that we can make the changes with very little impact to our budget. I’m proud of the work that’s being done in this area by Mary and her entire staff. When we make decisions that benefit our kids in ways we haven’t tried before, decisions that expand learning exponentially, we do out best work.
Read on to see what Dr. Rockey says:
I would like to begin by thanking Mrs. Moritz for the opportunity to explain some of the changes that have been occurring at RCS regarding special education services. While there are many reasons, I believe the most important one is that our children will be educated in our school. In the past, we have sent children to other schools and paid these schools to educate our children.
The three big changes that are occurring are:
- increasing of special education programs at RCS instead of sending students to other schools
- having our own summer school for students with IEPs
- providing preschool special education services
1 – Special Education Classes at RCS
Let me give an example. Suppose we have a student who has some problems. Even though she is in fourth grade, she can’t identify the letters of the alphabet or write all of the letters in her name. In the past, this child would have gone to a different school, perhaps in Salamanca or in Ashville. She would have had to ride the bus for a very long time each day, going to school and coming home. She would have been in class with children who live far away from her so it would be difficult for her family to help her get together with school friends to play. Randolph Central School would pay for both the transportation and the school program, which for most of these programs is in excess of $3,000 per month. However, if this student comes to our school, and is in class here, the cost is far less than $3,000 each month. And, the student has the advantage of being in the school and involved in the activities in her community.
2 – Summer School Special Education at RCS
The same example is true for our decision to have our own summer school program. In past summers, we have sent children to Salamanca and Ashville. The cost of these programs, in dollars, exceeds what we would pay if the classes were here at RCS. But more than that, our students will be with us in the summer. There will be no need to get used to a new teacher, new speech therapist, new counselor, for the six week summer session. The students will already know these people and the staff knows these children. This means that progress won’t stop for our children because there won’t be a “get to know” each other time period. And the transition back to classes in September will also be easier for each of these children.
3 – Preschool Special Education Services at RCS
This is a bit different than the previous two changes that are occurring because preschool services are currently not provided at all by RCS employees for those with special needs. Currently, other providers either come into the school or go to RCS children’s homes to provide preschool services and they receive the revenue for these services from the county of the child’s residence. Sometimes, our three and four year olds are sent to Little Valley or Salamanca for school each day. RCS is responsible through the New York State Education Department for these services, even though they don’t provide them. Now that we are approved to provide these services, our children will be seeing our speech therapists, our teachers and RCS will receive the revenue for providing these services.
I want to assure everyone that a detailed analysis of each of these programs has been conducted and discussed at length with our BOE. Each of these changes will benefit our children while reducing costs to RCS and our county taxpayers. If you have any questions, I am delighted to discuss any of these changes with you.
Dr. Mary Rockey