Stu­dent Ser­vices in Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion main­tains sup­port for young­sters af­ter re­struc­tur­ing changes made

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion’s Stu­dent Ser­vices pro­gram has been able to main­tain ser­vice lev­els de­spite a re­struc­tur­ing that changed staffing lev­els.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of Learn­ing Bob Vavra pro­vided de­tails dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion and Stu­dent Ser­vices mon­i­tor­ing re­port at a reg­u­lar Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion board meet­ing, June 11.

“We've just changed our pro­cesses and we’re be­ing more sys­tem­atic with our ser­vice de­liv­ery,” he said. “We've ac­tu­ally been able to main­tain ser­vice lev­els of the past.”

As a re­sult of bud­getary con­straints, the staffing changes at the Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion and Stu­dent Ser­vices pro­gram in­cluded a loss of one psy­chol­o­gist, one speech and lan­guage pathol­o­gist, and one oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pists.

“So we had to cre­ate new sys­tems and struc­tures to make up for that re­duc­tion,” he said. “Our main goal was to not re­duce ser­vice for stu­dents and not hav­ing stu­dents fall through the cracks and I think we've been re­ally good this year in not hav­ing that hap­pen.”

The pur­pose of the pro­gram is to pro­vide spe­cial­ized ser­vices to stu­dents who need more as­sis­tance than what is avail­able in class­rooms.

The pro­gram pro­vided spe­cial­ized sup­ports to 134 stu­dents dur­ing the 201718 school year. Stu­dents will have in­clu­sion and in­ter­ven­tion plans (IIP) and Stu­dent Ser­vices will mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of IIP’s and be­havioural plans dur­ing the year.

A new clus­ter model was im­ple­mented to main­tain pre­vi­ous sup­port lev­els. The school di­vi­sion has been di­vided into three clus­ters and for each one there is a co­or­di­na­tor, a psy­chol­o­gist and speech and lan­guage pathol­o­gist. Stu­dents Ser­vices now only has one oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, who pro­vides sup­port for all three clus­ters.

There are 8.8 FTE (full-time equiv­a­lent) coun­sel­lors, of which two are al­lo­cated to each clus­ter and one to the Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School, while some coun­sel­lor time is also al­lo­cated to Mav­er­ick and CAMPS School.

“I'm ac­tu­ally re­ally pleas­antly sur­prised,” Vavra men­tioned. “The changes we've made have worked re­ally well. We've re­duced some staff, but we've worked a lit­tle bit more sys­tem­at­i­cally and with a lit­tle bit more ef­fi­ciency and I think it has coun­ter­bal­anced that and it's been a very good year for sup­port­ing kids.”

Stu­dent Ser­vices im­ple­mented var­i­ous other changes to im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness of pro­gram de­liv­ery to stu­dents. In the past there were di­vi­sion­wide sup­port teams for autism, anx­i­ety and be­hav­iour, but they found the need was just too big and it was not ef­fec­tive to have a team trav­el­ling all over the di­vi­sion. Staff were there­fore trained in each clus­ter and these clus­ter teams are now pro­vid­ing sup­port to schools in their area.

“It's worked re­ally good and so when we do have a fam­ily come in or some­thing that we weren't pre­pared for in the past, now we re­ally have those peo­ple in the clus­ter,” he said. “They can get out there re­ally quickly and meet the needs of those stu­dents.”

The school di­vi­sion has es­tab­lished a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the Autism Part­ner­ship in Cal­gary, and ex­pert group that is pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional sup­port in a cost-ef­fec­tive way through the use of tech­nol­ogy.

“We get per­mis­sion from the par­ents to video tape stu­dents and we can send them the video tape of what the kids are do­ing and they can sup­port us very cost ef­fec­tive,” he said. “So within a cou­ple of hours us­ing video or tech­nol­ogy, we could get some an­swers and sup­port re­ally quick for kids.”

Stu­dent Ser­vices used Teacher As­sis­tance Teams (TAT) dur­ing the last few years to pro­vide sup­port for teach­ers who have stu­dents who re­quire ad­di­tional as­sis­tance.

“What we've done this year is we've tried to con­nect us­ing tech­nol­ogy,” he said. “So in­stead of driv­ing to Val Marie or Con­sul for half and hour meet­ing and spend­ing lots of time on the road, we can con­nect through tech­nol­ogy, be part of the meet­ings, com­mu­ni­cate just like we would in the past, but we're sav­ing huge wind­shield time. So that's worked re­ally well this year.”

The speech and lan­guage pathol­o­gists are also us­ing tech­nol­ogy to de­liver the nec­es­sary sup­port to stu­dents with­out the need to drive out to a school.

“The tech­nol­ogy is so good that the ac­tiv­i­ties they can do are very sim­i­lar to the ac­tiv­i­ties that they would do face to face,” he said. “So we could de­liver a half an hour block to a stu­dent. Some­times it would take three or four times that amount of time if you were to drive there and back.”

How­ever, there is still a need for per­sonal con­tact with stu­dents dur­ing as­sess­ments and staff will then visit the schools for those type of in­ter­ac­tions.

An­other change has been the proac­tive use of read­ing level data to iden­tify Grade 3 and 9 stu­dents who might re­quire ad­di­tional sup­port.

“This is the first year we've done that,” he noted. “We tar­geted kids based on their read­ing as­sess­ments and that went over very well. … So just by work­ing a lit­tle bit smarter and more sys­tem­at­i­cally, we're able to do more as­sess­ments with less peo­ple.”

Vavra be­lieves the way for­ward for Stu­dent Ser­vices is to con­tinue to re­view their ap­proach and to use tech­nol­ogy even more ef­fec­tively.

“Our work will have to be more sys­temic to sup­port stu­dents that need it the most,” he said. “We've tried to do that and I think we've done a re­ally good job, but we can al­ways do bet­ter.”

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