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District 64 board to hire additional special education coordinator for elementary schools

District 64 board to hire additional special education coordinator for elementary schools
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The Park Ridge- Niles School District 64 Board of Education unanimously agreed to hire an additional elementary school special education coordinator.

District 64 officials had told the board that the current program for elementary school students who have significant disabilities “is not working well.” The salary for the position is budgeted for $74,000 annually, according to the report.

By adding an additional special education coordinator, each will be able to evenly split time between two elementary schools, officials said. The district’s assistant director of student services will continue to be responsible for the district’s fifth elementary school, according to the plan approved by the board.

Special education coordinators are responsible for modeling best practices for staff while observing classroom lessons “to support student learning,” according to a report prepared. In addition, coordinators attend meetings to craft individualized education plans for disabled students. Those federally mandated plans determine what services students are to receive and what accommodations must be made for them.

“Unfortunately, the elementary school model is not working well, as the coordinator’s assignment of four buildings is too large to provide staff with the appropriate support,” according to a report prepared for the board. “Under the current model, the elementary coordinator spends a little more than one day at each building, with most of that time being spent in IEP meetings. As a result, the coordinator has little time to support staff in the classroom, lead professional development on best practices, and observe and support students in the classrooms.”

District 64 has one middle school special education coordinator, and that model “is working much better as that coordinator is able to spend 2.5 days at each building throughout the week,” according to a report prepared for the board.

The board also agreed to hire seven more teachers if District 64’s enrollment grows by 73 more students during the 2018-19 school year as compared with the 2017-18 school year as expected.

In addition, the District 64 board agreed to hire another elementary school assistant principal to allow both Carpenter and Franklin elementary schools to have their own No. 2 administrator. The two schools, which have seen their enrollment rise a combined 20 percent in six years, have shared an assistant principal since the 2012-13 school year.

In all, District 64 expects the additional staff members requested to cost approximately $986,000 annually in salaries and benefits.

In other action, the board unanimously voted to spend $72,000 to remove asbestos tiles from the hallways and art room floor from Roosevelt Elementary School during spring break, set to start March 23 and end April 3. The asbestos tiles are now covered with carpet and pose no risk to students unless disturbed, Director of Facility Management Ron George said.

Once the work is complete, the floors will be a clean concrete for the rest of the school year, according to a report prepared for the board. Mats will ensure that students will not slip, Chief School Business Official Luann Kolstad told the board.

Heather Cherone is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

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