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Monday, May 04, 2015

Needs grow for Mt. Blue special education services

"The Mt. Blue school district has seen a 35 percent increase in students who need special services, which follows the schools increase in the percent of low-income students qualified for the free or reduced lunch program." summarizes Kaitlin Schroeder, Staff Writer.

At Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington, an increase in special-needs programs means the school soon might need portable classrooms to accommodate students who require the programs. 
Photo: Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Social problems in the home, including poverty, drug use and violence, along with better ways to identify and respond to learning disabilities have contributed to a 35 percent increase in students needing special services at Mt. Blue Regional School District over the past seven years, according to school officials.

Superintendent Tom Ward said the increased need for special services, which ranges from help reading to behavioral therapists to social workers, is one of the largest changes in recent years in the Farmington-based school district’s educational landscape.

Fourteen percent of students in the district were eligible for special services in 2007. The figure rose to 19 percent this school year, in a district of about 2,240 students.

As the school board enters deliberations on the budget this week, many of the proposals it will consider center on providing increased special education needs.

A third school social worker is being proposed. Two additional special education teachers are requested for the Mt. Blue Middle School. A committee has been formed to weigh long- and short-term solutions to the increased space requirements of special education programs at the middle school. One short-term option proposes portable classrooms for the school.

In the 2013 and 2014 school year, the district added a day treatment program to support students with behavioral and mental health problems and help them transition back into the regular classroom. Along with academic work for the 33 students now in day treatment, the program involves therapeutic work, social work and group work.

“It’s for obstacles to learning that aren’t academic in nature but are more mental health in nature,” said Christine Gatto-Shea, director of special services for the school district.
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Source: Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

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