By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

The last hurdle of a new Special Education Consortium received approval in last week’s Lakewood School Board meeting.

The consortium, which involves four districts, seeks to improve services in special education.

The move separates the four districts from the nine-district special education consortium through the Cooperative Educational Services Agency.

A consortium provides services and oversight in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and help with hearing-impaired students as needed, and meeting established federal and state special education mandates.

Lakewood’s District Administrator Joe Price said the four districts opted for the partnership, citing more rigorous state mandates that need more planning and follow-up on special education students.

In addition to services, there is a potential for cost savings, according to Price.

“It is a great benefit to all of the schools involved from a cost perspective,” Price said. “Worst case scenario, it is cost neutral with an anticipatory increase of student savings.”

Price noted all districts pay a surcharge for CESA services that “adds up considerably,” although figures were not disclosed at the board meeting.

Lakewood School is the fourth and last school district to pass the partner school consortium, with Wilmot Union High School making the first move, followed by approval at Randall Consolidated School and Riverview School.

Randall Consolidated School expects to house the office of the newly created position, Director of Pupil Service, with input from the other three districts.

On March 17, Randall Consolidated posted the Director of Pupil Services position on its website with no set deadline.

Board member Rhett Suhre told residents in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting that all districts will have representation during the application process.

“The selection process will involve all of the districts with equal say,” Suhre said.

Each of the four districts expects to pay 25 percent of the total costs throughout the two-year contract with the eventual Director of Pupil Services.

The director position would go beyond the scope of special education, expanding duties to pupil services and assist in the leadership of Section 504 plans, guidance delivery models, instruction support and other related support.

Section 504 plans are individualized education plans for special education students.

Furthermore, other supports include Response to Intervention leadership and bolstering school counseling services.

Also, more help with school board policy development in the areas of bullying/harassment, special education, seclusion and restraint and anti-discrimination measures could be added.

The director expects to rotate throughout the three other districts and aid in financial reporting requirements under federal and state laws.

Other business
The board approved Phase One of the faculty compensation model, a measure that seeks to bolster staff retention, and award qualified teachers on merit and continuing education.


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