Worcester’s Special Education Staffing Plan Approved

Worcester’s Special Education Staffing Plan Approved
A graphic shows the breakdown of disabilities impacting Worcester County public school students as of last fall. Submitted Photo

BERLIN – The Worcester County Board of Education approved the county’s special education staffing plan this week.

Rae Record, the school system’s supervisor of special education, reviewed the latest data and presented the staffing plan to the school board on Tuesday.

“Our staffing plan for this school year is very sufficient pending no surprises,” Record said.

Each year, the school system is tasked with developing a special education staffing plan to ensure students with disabilities are provided the services included in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Record said a continuum of services was provided to meet the needs of students with disabilities. In Worcester County, most special education students are dealing with specific learning disabilities (28.5 percent) while others have other health impairments (27.23 percent). Just under 11 percent of the special education students served in Worcester County have autism while not quite 17 percent are dealing with a speech or language impairment.

Record said 82 percent of the school system’s students with disabilities spent 80 percent of their school day in the general education classroom.

In addition to the infants and toddler program and early childhood services offered by the school system, Record reviewed the various programs provided to serve special education students from ages 6-21.

As far as staffing for the coming year, Record said there were just a handful of changes. The county lost one special education math coach because the grant that funded the position had expired. The county did however add a special education teacher at Stephen Decatur High School to meet growing needs and also added two occupational therapists and a project manager for the new Project SEARCH program at Atlantic General Hospital. The school system also added an infants and toddler case manager.

She stressed that the changes did not impact the budget.

“We were able to use existing funds,” she said.

She thanked school board members for their attention to special education.

“Special education in Worcester County has never gone without and that’s because of the support you’ve provided us,” she said.

When asked if she’d had any trouble finding speech or occupational therapists to hire, Record said she had not but acknowledged that there was a shortage of such professionals.

“We could run into a problem in the future,” she said, but added that Worcester County was typically considered an attractive place to work.

School board member Doug Dryden praised the efforts of Record and the school system’s entire special education staff.

“It’s an eye opener, all the different skills and jobs it takes to serve the special education community,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.