With just a single student qualifying for early childhood special education at Hurricane Deck Elementary, Camdenton R-III School District officials have decided to scrap the program for the time being, opting to send the student to Dogwood Elementary.

With just a single student qualifying for early childhood special education at Hurricane Deck Elementary, Camdenton R-III School District officials have decided to scrap the program for the time being, opting to send the student to Dogwood Elementary.

Camdenton’s early childhood special education program is funded through the federal government’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of eligible students with disabilities.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Julie Dill explained that in order for the district to receive full funding, the special education classroom must have at least 10 students, ages 3 to 4, who qualify under IDEA and only one student has been identified at Hurricane Deck. For example, a classroom with only five special education students would receive half of the full funding available.

“If you have 10 students in your classroom it’s called a fully funded classroom. You can only have 10 additional students, non-special education kids. For every one special education student you would have a non-special education kid as a peer model,” Dill explained. “There have been some changes in funding over the last couple of years and they’re getting pretty tight on one-on-one.”

School officials have been monitoring the preschool programs over the past couple of years and had previously identified a total of five students who qualified at Dogwood Elementary. As the assessment process occurs on a regular basis throughout the school year, additional students were added to qualify for a fully funded classroom with the addition of the Hurricane Deck student for the 2017-2018 school year.

“Students’ needs will still be met. We’re just going to bring them to the Dogwood campus to get their services. Last year we had more students, but the classroom wasn’t full funded. He or she will have access to more resources now,” Dill said. “Services can include speech and language therapy, occupational and physical therapy and, of course, they get their core academics.”

Hurricane Deck was the only school identified in the district without enough students to qualify for a fully funded classroom. Special education students are paired with peer mentors and usually have one or two para-professionals in the classroom along with the teacher. Transportation services will also be provided to students who qualify for special education.

“We constantly evaluate students year-long. If we ever got enough, we would open that classroom back up, but we have to stay within the federal guidelines for the program. If we got nine more, the classroom is already there and set up, so we would just need to locate a teacher,” Dill noted. “We just want to be good stewards of our community’s resources.”