Originally Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2012, 8:14 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 11, 2012, 10:01 pm
Closure no option for special ed district
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By Anthony Watt, email@example.com
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Photo: Paul Colletti|
School buses line up outside the Black Hawk Area Education Center in East Moline on Tuesday, December 11, 2012.
Moline's withdrawal from the Black Hawk Area Special Education District will mean changes but not closure, according to officials from both districts.
On Monday night, the Moline-Coal Valley School District board approved a number of cost-saving measures. Leaving BHASED in the 2014-2015 school year is expected to save Moline schools about $1 million.
"We're going to educate all of the Moline students that we possibly can in our district," Moline-Coal Valley superintendent David Moyer said.
BHASED includes 14 school districts in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties that share the cost of providing services to students with emotional, cognitive or physical disabilities. For decades, the Moline school district has provided administration for the center; many of its teachers and staff are Moline school district employees.
The loss of Moline's support likely will mean cuts, according to BHASED director Mike Weger. It's too early to know the extent and nature of those cuts, he said, but they will not include closure.
Moline's assistant superintendent Christina Denman echoed that sentiment, saying the remaining school districts and BHASED officials will have to determine how to administer the center after Moline leaves. Moline traditionally has handled BHASED's hiring, payroll and overview of curriculum, she said.
Ms. Denman said Moline's withdrawal will mean some district employees will be pulled out of BHASED to work specifically with Moline students. About72 teachers, teacher's aides, support staff and administrators at BHASED's primary center are Moline school district employees, she said. A smaller number are BHASED employees or others brought from outside to handle students' specific needs.
Details of the split were on hold until the board's decision. Now the work turns to determining how many BHASED employees will be brought to the Moline district and how many might stay as BHASED employees or in some other capacity.
Currently 43 Moline students of all ages are participating in BHASED, Mr. Moyer said. Handling services for those students will not require a staff increase, he said. For students requiring services Moline can't provide, the district will work with an outside provider — possibly BHASED — Mr. Moyer said.
"We're committed to ensuring that the center remains in operation," he said. "One way or another, we would have an obligation to meet the needs of those students."
According to Mr. Moyer, Moline school officials now are assessing available space in district buildings, the services currently being provided and the anticipated number — and needs — of students for when it leaves BHASED.
He said Moline schools would not make the move if officials did not think they could provide the services.
Moline also administers a BHASED program for students with significant hearing loss, Mr. Weger said. How Moline's withdrawal will affect those programs are yet to be determined, and Ms. Denman said the district is discussing whether it will continue to oversee that program.
Superintendents from several of the other districts in BHASED on Tuesday either said it was too early to determine the effect of Moline's withdrawal or referred questions to Mr. Weger.