June 26, 2009
New school program for 'emotionally disabled'
Stimulus funds:
Elementary school to add teacher and counselor


GOFFSTOWN - Elementary-aged students with emotional and behavioral problems will no longer have to leave the school district to have their needs met, according to the superintendent, thanks to new positions that will be funded at first by federal stimulus funds.

The district will employ one full-time teacher and one part-time counselor at The Bartlett Elementary School to help educate “emotionally disabled” students, said Stacy Buckley, the district’s superintendent.

“It provides a program for a population that we don’t have a program for at the elementary level,” she said.

Buckley said the program would be geared toward children with behavioral disorders, such as severe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or those who are aggressive in class.

“Any situation where it’s too much for a classroom teacher, and we want to provide additional resources to improve the behaviors,” she said.

Students would spent part of the day in mainstream classrooms and part of the day with the new teacher, who will be certified teaching special education students with emotional handicaps, Buckley said. The part-time counselor will be there to assist classroom teachers in dealing with the students, she said. The amount of time spent in a mainstream classroom and with the specialized teacher depends on each student’s individual education plan, Buckley said.

“Ultimately, our goal would be to have these students back in the mainstream classroom without any intervention,” she said.

The new positions will be funded with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, most likely for the first two years. The school district was awarded $679,768 in federal special education grants, which will be used for this program and other initiatives that are still in development, Buckley said.

While the school district will eventually have to pay for the program itself, Buckley said the positions will actually save Goffstown money. Students now have to attend schools outside of the district, usually private special education schools, during elementary years. The district already has programs for students with emotional disabilities in middle and high school.

“Because we weren’t able to meet their needs in our public schools, we’ve paid for them to go somewhere else,” Buckley said.

The district pays on average between $40 and $60 thousand a year tuition at out-of-district schools, depending on where the student goes and what services they need. Transportation costs an additional $60 to $100 a day, Buckley said.

In contrast, hiring the teacher will cost about $72,000 a year, and the part-time counselor will cost about half of that, Buckley said. The district would no longer have to pay for the three to four
students Buckley expects to be part of the program to attend school elsewhere. The school might be able to bring the students who are currently out of the district back into the district once the program
is established, Buckley said.

Buckley expects to fill the positions this summer and begin the program in September.

“That’s our hope,” Buckley said.


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