School Committee Approves New Special Education Coordinator Position

WILMINGTON, MA — At its most recent meeting, the Wilmington School Committee unanimously approved a reorganization of the district’s Student Support Services and a create a full-time Coordinator of Special Education PreK-12 position.

“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,” Superintendent Glenn Brand told the School Committee when he first introduced the proposal. “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.

“I very much support the intent of this plan,” said School Committee member MJ Byrnes. “I’m hoping it will bring more efficiency and effectiveness to our Special Education Department.”

Byrnes, and several other members, requested that the high school teachers absorbing the workload of the eliminated .6 position be provided with the necessary supports and receive “check-ins” to communicate any concerns.

“50% of SPED teachers burnout in their first 2 years,” cautioned Byrnes. “That department has only seen more growth in regards to more mandates and more children in need. I want to make sure that the staff taking on the .6 position’s work have the right supports.”

“Reading this proposal makes sense to me,” agreed School Committee Chair Julie Broussard. “I would hope we consider to evaluate this and make sure it’s working for our  staff and our students.”

“We should remember that having administrative support is a crucial part for teachers, and that’s what we’re trying to address here,” said School Committee member David Ragsdale. “We should be looking to make things easier and improve things for our special education teachers in their classrooms by providing them with more administrative support and having someone in a full-time role to coordinate special education within the district.

Watch the meeting, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below. The discussion begins at the 15-mintue mark.

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