NA special education program to receivve stimulus funds

Under the Title I American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) budget, the New Albany School District’s special education department (SPED) received stimulus funds for the first time.

“There are a lot of requirements on how the money will be spent. We have to report every month to the federal government and the funds are highly regulated and heavily audited,” according to Dr. Charles Garrett, New Albany School Superintendent.

$85, 000 is already set aside for a school bus for students with special needs and disabilities and more than $200,000 is set aside for technology.

Dr. Janie Conway, part-time interim federal programs curriculum and transportation director, said, “The ARRA program is part of President Obama’s stimulus plan for education. The three goals of this plan are to save and create jobs, improve student achievement, and reporting and accountability. All of the money is to be expended over a two-year period of time.”

In addition to receiving stimulus funds for ARRA, SPED can also use some of that stimulus money to help fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B more fully.

IDEA Part B is the regular budget that provides services to children with disabilities and provides individualized education to those students.

Kelly Coltharp, director of special services, said, “Most of this money goes toward personnel, professional development, student travel, instructional supplies, etc. It will be the same as last year and will continue to provide services as usual. IDEA Part B is for students ages 6-21 and that stimulus money is $469, 142. The preschool budget is for students ages 3-5 and that budget is $20, 000.

“The stimulus funds came with certain requirements and came with principles that we have to follow. The first one was to spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. I would like to recommend that we save one and a half teacher units over the next two years. I would also like to fund two assistants for one year. Another principle was to improve student achievement for school improvement and reform. Also, we need new technology and we have not bought any computers in SPED since 2003,” said Coltharp.

Coltharp formed a committee of teachers to look at what the children’s needs would be and how to meet those needs. The teachers visited other SPEDs at other districts and came back with a list of ideas on how the New Albany’s School District’s sped department can be helped and changed.

“I want to get all of the teachers new desktop computers so they can write an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for each student and also to perform daily tasks, digital cameras, movie cameras, DVD players, portable DVD players, DVD reading programs, listening centers, radios and CD players for a music center, notebook Mac computers for students with assistive technology software including text to speech, and other technology items,” said Coltharp.

“In addition to technology, we also want to achieve teacher effectiveness with professional development, staff development, teacher workshops, inclusion modeling, and help SPED children get into more regular general education classrooms,” said Coltharp.