SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS: Superintendent Proposes Reorganization Of Special Education Department

WILMINGTON, MA — At a recent School Committee Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand proposed a reorganization of the school district’s Student Support Services Department.

“As you are aware, there are a number of concerns that have surfaced throughout the course of my entry into the district pertaining to the district’s Special Education program and services,” Brand told the School Committee in a memo he summarized. “It is quite clear that as a district we have room for widespread improvement as it relates to these services that support our students and their families district-wide.”

“I am proposing a restructuring of the department that I envision will be a first – but important – step toward improving our efforts to properly lead, align and improve the services we provide to our students and their families,” Brand announced. “I am proposing a restructuring plan that would result in the creation of a new administrative position to provide greater support to the area of Special Education.”

This new position — the Coordinator of Special Education PreK-12 — would be a “budget-netural adjustment.” The district would eliminate the current Special Education Curriculum Team Leader position (0.4 FTE) and its teaching component (0.6 FTE) to create this 1.0 FTE Coordinator position. The loss of the 0.6 FTE teaching component can be absorbed by existing staff at the high school, according to Brand.

Brand identified many benefits of creating a full-time administrative position to oversee Special Education district-wide, including:

  • additional capacity to serve on behalf of the Director that can dedicate time and support to Special Education programming
  • provide consistency in terms of oversight for program, team meetings, and transitions from building-to-building
  • allow for greater capacity of the Director to attend to other essential needs within the department
  • provide the opportunity to redefine the organization structure of the department to ensure greater administrative oversight

Dr. Brand is engaging with the Wilmington Teacher’s Association to finalize a memorandum of understanding; sharing the proposal with the Department of Student Support Services and impacted special education staff; finalizing the job description; and developing a new organizational chart for the Student Support Services Department.

The School Committee appeared supportive of Brand’s proposal, but did raise a concern.

“My only concern here is the Special Education teachers are already taxed,” said School Committee member Steve Bjork. “Is [having them absorb the workload of the .6 FTE teacher] going to cause a lot of strain. I’m all for creating this position, but if the budget will allow, I’d hate to see the 0.6 FTE be absorbed.”

“That .6 teacher is currently here at the high school. In fact, over the last couple of years, there’s been a gentle paring back of their workload,” responded Superintendent Brand. “With the current special education staffing at the high school, the existing case loads can be abosrbed and not become problematic for the other teachers taking on more students.”

“I agree with Steve about taking away the teaching component and its impact on the high school’s programs, but if you’re confident it won’t [have a negative impact], then I’m comfortable,” said School Committee member Jo Newhouse, who formerly served as the district’s Special Education PAC President.”I think this is a spot where we need to add more personnel. And if we need more funds, I’d support it.”

The School Committee will vote on the matter at its next meeting on Wednesday, April 24.

Watch the meeting, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below. The discussion begins at the 31-mintue mark.

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