By Robert Tomlinson
CENTREVILLE — Centreville Public Schools is looking to fill a new position to address special education in their district.
During their meeting Monday, the CPS Board of Education approved adding the position of special education administrator to the district. According to Board Vice President Jackie Bowen, the new position was created to “better meet the needs of our special education students, staff, and families, remain compliant with special education laws, and be less reliant on outside sources.”
Qualified applicants for the position, according to the job description, are required to have a Michigan Administrator Certificate or the eligibility to obtain one, have a Director of Special Education approval from the Michigan Department of Education or the eligibility to obtain one, have a valid Michigan teaching certificate with special education endorsement, and a minimum of three years of administrative experience with special education.
The timing of the new position’s posting comes following the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District’s announcement in December of the closure of their emotionally impaired (EI) program, which assisted a number of students throughout the county that had emotional disabilities. Centreville, like many other districts, were affected by the closure of the program, as one student that was in the EI program was placed back in the district because of it.
Superintendent Chad Brady acknowledged that there were “a number of factors” the district decided to create the position, when asked if it came about due to the closure of the EI program.
“Just with the overall special ed population in the district, our ability to better provide services to the best of our ability, having someone that has more insight to special education law and best practices for special education students, the amount of time it takes to do everything from county meetings to in-district service meetings, I think this is a great step forward for doing what we possibly can to ensure our special education students continue to grow,” Brady said. “From my perspective, that’s the reason for the ask.”
Brady said the requirement for a teaching license could also help ease the caseload of special education teachers in the district if they need to, due to state limits on how many students a special education teacher can have. He also said the position will give better oversight to the district’s special education teachers.
“We’re at 59 [students] currently, and depending on the grade level they serve, it depends on what that number is, we’re close for a few of our special ed teachers’ caseloads. They’re all high,” Brady said. “This gives us a better opportunity to have better administrative oversight and making sure that things we’re doing with the IEPs, the professional development we’re providing for our teachers, all of those things that we need.”
Board Secretary T.J. Reed said having this position will be a “need” for the district, and it could help them avoid compliance issues if they get more special education students or if a special education teacher leaves. Trustee Tegan Stuby-Hekter said the district is “falling short” in some special education components, so having this position be filled will be key for the district.
“This will be another way to get ourselves in line and a way to be in a better position for when the ISD isn’t able to provide services,” Stuby-Hekter said.
Brady said the district in the past has been “fortunate” to have ISD support with special education coordinators, but recognized that position was shared between several districts.
“They’re sort of seeing three other districts, and two of them are larger than ours, and you can see why the need is there,” Brady said. “This is not an uncommon thing to have in a district at all, and I think now is the right time to move on this. I think it’ll be an important role, and this will be another step forward for the district overall.”
Brady said the district will look at internal candidates for the position first, then look at external candidates to find who they want.
In other business…
The board approved the district’s midyear budget adjustment. In total, their projected revenues increased from projections at the beginning of the year by $1.2 million, thanks to increases in revenue from property taxes, ESSER funds and CTE millage funds, while total projected expenditures increased by $1.65 million, mainly due to $224,293 in additional at-risk aides and CTE expenditures, and a $1.1 million transfer to the district’s new Capital Projects Fund.
The board approved the new Capital Projects Fund, which will be funded with the $1.1 million from the general fund, and will be going toward what Brady called “significant capital improvement needs” in the district.
The board received the mid-year Learning Loss Goal Progress report, formerly known as the Return to Learn report, which showed that 63 percent of students in the district are showing growth in reading, while 60 percent are showing growth in math.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or email@example.com.