In mid-May, the Huntley School Board was approached by some disappointed and frustrated parents.
At both the Finance and the board meeting, the moms of kids with special needs felt empowered to speak about the education their kids are or are NOT getting.
You see, two key special education employees jumped ship.
The parents seemed to think there no longer was light at the end of the tunnel.
How Federal economic stimulus money will be spent is at stake, too.
The Huntley School District is getting $1.5 million. The money has to be spent over a two year period.
A loophole, however, allows half of it to be drained to other than new or additional special education uses.
The administration wants to spend a rather large amount of money on a reading software that they have not piloted or know if it will be effective with special ed students.
The reading software is being used for regular students now. This makes it look like the software the district will be buying is software that would normally be bought this year to expand its use with more regular ed students.
The reasoning for diverting the money is that Federal mandates for so many years have been unfunded. Maybe “underfunded” would be a better word.
During comments the parents made a lot of interesting points. One became emotional at the board meeting and pretty much ignored Board President Shawn Green’s attempt to shut her down after a certain amount of time.
Board member Aileen Seedorf was aggressive in the discussion, even pulling out a hat and put ting it on mid-discussion, using it as a prop to make a point.
Seedorf pushed for a standing Special Ed Board committee, but the the board majority would not allow it.
In any event, signatures are being sought on the following petition:
To: Superintendent and Board of Education, District 158
John Burkey, Shawn Green, Kevin Gentry, Kimberly Skaja, Don Drzal, Aileen Seedorf, Michael Skala, Paul Troy
RE: Special Services in Consolidated School District 158
It is our sincere belief that the following measures would be in the best interest of the students in District 158 who are receiving special services. We ask that you do the following:
1) Take the economic stimulus (ARRA) funding over the two year period, rather than one, to ensure that more is spent on new special services
2) Since so much of the ARRA funding is slated for a reading program that has, to our knowledge, not been tested on the students receiving special services in our district (and for whom the program is being purchased), run a pilot program with fewer licenses than currently planned of the READ 180 computer program, and test it only on students receiving special services.
3) Use more of this ARRA funding on education/further education of teachers and aides, to give them the best possible tools to work with students with special needs of all types
4) Specifically seek input on the ARRA funding as well as the future of special services in our district from parents whose children are receiving services