04 Jun York School Committee Endorses Special Education Collaborative Plan (ME)June 4, 2010
By: Susan MorseSource: Seacoast Online
The School Committee has given its support for the Southern Maine Special Education Collaborative.
The collaborative is intended to save money for the five school districts taking part: Kittery, Wells-Ogunquit, SAD 35 (Eliot and South Berwick), SAD 60 (North Berwick and Lebanon) and York.
The agreement, which York agreed to on Wednesday, takes effect July 1 for a one-year trial.
The incentive for the collaborative was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money given to local districts to plan for efficiencies, according to York Superintendent Henry Scipione.
"We’re very excited about this," Scipione said. "We got together and committed a portion of the grant money to special education. We hired a consultant."
Superintendents of the five districts and special education directors have been meeting for a year, Scipione said. "As a result of many meetings, this proposal came forward," he said.
The proposal is to hire a board certified behavior analyst who will serve the five districts. The new position will replace the practice of each district hiring consultants, who were paid by the hour, according to Scipione.
"We r ealized all of the districts were doing the same thing," he said. "We decided to hire a professional person under contract to be shared by the five districts. It will be funded through the stimulus money. It will enable us to create this pilot program."
The behavior analyst will spend a day each week in each of the school districts, Scipione said. York holds the contract, with the other districts buying the service.
"We see it from our perspective as being cost-effective," he said. "The special education directors are excited about it. We’re optimistic … it’s just a one year commitment at this point. We can change it if we feel it’s appropriate."
Scipione asked the York School Committee for its endorsement, not approval. Vice Chairman Tim Fitzgerald asked if the collaborative would require committee approval if it is extended beyond a year.
"After the first year, depending on how it goes, it’s coming back if you want to extend this," Scipione said.
Committee member Mary Jane Merrill asked if the collaborative was a first for Maine. Scipione said others have been in effect in Cumberland County and elsewhere.
The committee unanimously endorsed the collaborative in a 4-0 vote. Member Marilyn Zotos, who has served as chairman, was absent. Due to Zotos absence, the School Committee postponed taking a vote on electing a new chairman of the committee. Fitzgerald was voted in as vice chairman.