Chang­ing needs

The Glengarry News - - News -

Ap­prox­i­mately 25 per cent of Up­per Canada District School Board stu­dents are re­ceiv­ing spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion sup­port, which is slightly higher than the pro­vin­cial av­er­age of 17 per cent.

That is one of the find­ings of a re­port Su­per­in­ten­dent Ron Fer­gu­son pre­sented at the board’s most re­cent meet­ing.

Trustees ap­proved a pi­lot pro­gram after learn­ing that more stu­dents with Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der are ac­cess­ing spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion in the UCDSB and fewer with iden­ti­fied learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, al­though the over­all num­ber of stu­dents re­ceiv­ing these spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices re­mains con­stant.

In 2018-19 the school board ex­ceeded pro­vin­cial fund­ing for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion by $8.6 mil­lion, and has had lim­ited suc­cess in ac­cess­ing spe­cial­ized pro­vin­cial fund­ing known as the Spe­cial In­ci­dent Por­tion (SIP) al­lo­ca­tion for the 2019-2020 school year.

Staff sug­gested that the UCDSB im­ple­ment a pi­lot project in the 201920 school year to test a multi-dis­ci­plinary team ap­proach to spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion plan­ning, in­ter­ven­tion and sup­port. It was also rec­om­mended that staff re-ex­am­ine how in­di­vid­ual ed­u­ca­tion plans are de­vel­oped and im­ple­mented in the district, and clar­ify gen­eral ex­pec­ta­tions for how they are to be de­vel­oped, mon­i­tored and up­dated.

“Through these changes and the pi­lot-pro­gram, we hope to see longterm ben­e­fits for our schools. It has be­come ob­vi­ous that the needs of stu­dents are chang­ing, so our pro­gram­ming needs to re­flect that,” said Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion Stephen Sliwa. “It’s our ex­pec­ta­tion that these ini­tia­tives will al­low our schools to con­tinue to be re­spon­sive to the evolv­ing needs of our stu­dents, while es­tab­lish­ing a bet­ter align­ment be­tween these pro­gram com­mit­ments and the re­sources and op­por­tu­ni­ties that are pro­vided by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.”

The re­port also sug­gested, “Con­sid­er­a­tion should be given to en­hanc­ing staff train­ing in ar­eas such as dif­fer­en­ti­ated in­struc­tion and be­hav­ior man­age­ment in light of the chang­ing pro­file of our stu­dents.”

The re­view in­volved 13 school vis­its and seven fo­cus groups com­prised of staff, par­ents, trustees, labour rep­re­sen­ta­tives and mem­bers of the board’s Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Ad­vi­sory Committee.

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