The low incidence special education program will be moving from Wilson Elementary Program next year and consolidating at Roosevelt Elementary School.
Raj Sharma, director of special education, relayed the information to the Hays school board during a meeting last week.
Right now, the co-op has a STAR classroom in both Wilson and Roosevelt. All three STAR classes will be located at Roosevelt next school year.
The STAR program includes a redesigned space at Roosevelt Elementary School that allows special needs children to read in small quiet spaces and learn academic and life skills at stations designed just for them.
The recommendation came from the STAR team and schools. The program is slowly transitioning and trying to involve parents in the process.
“If we have all the resources at one school, it is going to be beneficial for our students. It is going to be beneficial for our parents and the community,” he said.
Sharma also discussed other activities the special education cooperative had been undertaking in the last few months. The co-op, with the support of outside agencies, conducted a resource fair for families this fall.
Sharma said he hoped to re-create the fair during other school events, including enrollment and kindergarten round-up.
“The goal is that our parents and our community members are aware of the resources that are available in our community,” he said.
Members of the special education team will be giving a Kansas Exemplary Education Network (KEEN) presentation on space design and mindfulness at an upcoming conference. The special education cooperative staff will talk about the new STAR classrooms and flexible classrooms.
Schools districts are subject to regular compliance checks for individual education plans (IEPs) for special education students. Last year, Hays and Victoria were part of the compliance audit, and Ellis and La Crosse were part of the compliance audit this year. All four districts, which are part of the co-op, received 100 percent compliance.
“That is a part of the hard work and dedication that our educators do throughout the classrooms,” Sharma said. “IEPs are very crucial. It is a legal document. How we do and what we do dictates our policies.”
Several committees and teams are working to update the co-op’s policies and procedures, which are about 10 years old.
The co-op’s Project Search Committee is working toward implementing a program that would help low-incidence high school juniors and seniors obtain and retain jobs after graduation. At present, the employment rate among these students is only about 20 percent. The goal is to increase that to 70 percent through this program. Project Search is in 17 schools in Kansas and 100 in the nation.
A ParaEducator Trainers Committee is taking the lead in training paras in the co-op’s four districts, Sharma said.
“This is a crucial piece of what we do with our paraeducators,” he said. “Sometimes, you have staff and you see the low wage and no training. This is crucial for us to move forward. I am positive, and I think we are moving in a positive direction.”