Board looks at special ed teacher spot

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 school board Wednesday approved the hire of an additional special education teacher for a student coming from a psychiatric facility.

The student, who is expected at Anthony Middle by the end of the month, spent time in the Intensive Behavioral Supports program at Lakemary Center, a psychiatric residential treatment center that has a school.

Deb Howser, USD 383 special education director, said the student will require a personal teacher for a while as the transition occurs. She said it would be “extremely difficult” to provide the support needed with the current staff, and other students would suffer without the additional teacher.

“The plan is that once this particular student is settled, the teacher will take on a couple of other kids to lighten the load,” she said. The district has a similar case at Manhattan High west campus with one certified instructor for one student.

Hiring the teacher will cost the district $17,200 with another $28,800 that will be reimbursed by the state. Howser said the district already considered the expense and built it into the budget.

She acknowledged it would be harder to find a teacher at this point in the year, but the district didn’t want to hire a teacher until it was certain the student was coming to Anthony.

The board also discussed enrollment numbers that were released by the district Sept. 20. The district remained relatively flat this fall with an increase of one student. (That’s not counting 242 preschool students — a group that wasn’t included in enrollment figures in previous years.)

Board member Dave Colburn said he found the lack of growth in K-12 enrollment interesting. Not including virtual students, K-12 enrollment is down 50 students from fall 2011.

“I sit as this table and think of us as a growing school district,” Colburn said. “We purchased land in planning for a new elementary school.”

Colburn said he expected this to be a part of the discussion during the board retreat later this month, which will include the district’s future building plans.

Board member Darell Edie said he expected this in the period between Fort Riley growth and the arrival of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). “I expect us to go through a short lull, then we’re going to hit a sudden high again,” he said.

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