2018-06-21 / Local News

G-L may offer special ed. for county

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

A plan to offer special education to Leelanau County’s youngest special needs children is being pursued by the Glen Lake Board of Education.

The School Board voted unanimously last week to form and host a countywide Early Childhood Special Education (ECSA) program.

The move, recommended by the board’s curriculum committee, has come from necessity, according to Glen Lake superintendent Sander Scott.

“We’ve always been able to reserve a slot for early childhood special education with TCAPS (Traverse City Area Public Schools),” he said. “But we’ve been told they won’t have any available.”

State law requires that special instruction and related services be provided to children ages 3-5 who are found to have development delays or disabilities.

Often special needs are identified through regular well child physicals or pre-school screening.

“A lot are speech and language related,” Scott said. “Some require physical or occupational therapy but it’s typically a learning disability that qualifies them for special education.”

Other county school districts who previously went to TCAPS for the service will also be impacted.

“We may have a need for next year,” Suttons Bay superintendent Mike Carmean said. “We’ll work with Glen Lake on a financial arrangement to serve at least one space for Suttons Bay.”

The collaboration is also appreciated by Northport superintendent Neil Wetherbee.

“This is something Northport doesn’t need very often, but it is extremely important when needed,” he said. “We’ve been in communication with Glen Lake and we are excited to learn more.”

Glen Lake’s curriculum committee recommended approval of the proposal provided it doesn’t require opening more than one classroom, doesn’t commit the district to enrolling the child through grade 12 and that participating districts compensate Glen Lake for services provided on their behalf.

An enrollment of five students has been targeted.

“It think we can handle it with the staff we currently have by reassignment,” Scott said. “We’ll work with local districts to make sure there’s no financial disincentive for them to send their students here — but not at our taxpayer’s expense.”

The cost to provide the service is estimated at $10,000 per year per student. Much of the expense will be covered through federal funding.

“It’s just extra attention early on. Some of these kids end up being some of the best students,” Scott said.

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