City, ACES join forces for a new spe­cial ed pro­gram

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Linda Con­ner Lam­beck lclam­[email protected]­post.com; twit­ter/lclam­beck

AN­SO­NIA — Stu­dents with emo­tional dis­abil­i­ties at Mead El­e­men­tary School no longer will have to take a 17-mile bus ride to North Haven to re­ceive spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices.

Be­gin­ning in Jan­uary, the pro­gram they at­tend through Area Co­op­er­a­tive Ed­u­ca­tional Ser­vices will have a satel­lite cam­pus at Mead School.

The part­ner­ship ini­tially won’t cut down on spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion costs for the district, but it is ex­pected to trim trans­porta­tion ex­penses and al­low stu­dents in the pro­gram to re­main closer to their home school com­mu­nity.

“It’s ex­cit­ing that our stu­dents will be brought home,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Carol Mer­lone. “Par­ents seemed very en­thused about it.”

She said the ar­range­ment came about after she ap­proached ACES Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Thomas Danehy last year. The district re­cently had a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion au­dit that rec­om­mended more stu­dents be served in-district.

An in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on the pro­gram was held this week at Mead, so par­ents could tour the wing of the school that will house the pro­gram. Mer­lone said at least two stu­dents have been as­signed to what will be called ACES at Mead, and three oth­ers are in the process.

Even­tu­ally, the pro­gram could grow to ac­com­mo­date up to 40 stu­dents from across the district as well as sur­round­ing towns.

In the 2017-18 school year, out of 511 An­so­nia stu­dents with iden­ti­fied dis­abil­i­ties, 37 had emo­tional dis­abil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to state fig­ures. About a dozen in grades K-12 at­tend ACES’ Mill Road School in North Haven. The pro­gram at Mead School will start for grades K-3.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide stu­dents with the least re­stric­tive en­vi­ron­ment,” said Danehy. “A ma­jor bonus is that this model will al­low ACES and Mead stu­dents to learn from one an­other.”

In ad­di­tion to spe­cial­ized in­struc­tion, par­tic­i­pants will at­tend gym, art, lunch and spe­cial pro­grams with other stu­dents at Mead School.

The cost will re­main the same to An­so­nia, at $59,000 for each stu­dent. The pro­gram will start with an ad­min­is­tra­tor, teacher, teacher’s aide and phys­i­cal ther­a­pist. Plans call for the staff to grow as the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion does.

“When we break even (we) will share rev­enue with An­so­nia,” said Danehy.

An­so­nia is plan­ning a sec­ond in­for­ma­tion ses­sion once the pro­gram opens next month. To learn more, con­tact An­so­nia Pub­lic Schools or ACES at [email protected]

Contributed photo

ACES Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Thomas Danehy speaks at Mead School in An­so­nia.

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