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posted: 2/13/2018 5:33 AM

More social workers, special-ed class change proposed for Geneva schools

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The Geneva school board is considering adding another full-time social worker to the staff at Geneva High School, and the equivalent of .85 more social workers to augment the staffs at Williamsburg, Heartland and Mill Creek elementary schools, and the Geneva Early Learning Center.

It also has been asked to convert four part-time special-education assistants at the learning center to two full-time positions. That would cut the number of assistant hours from 68 a week to 62, but should provide for better continuity in instruction, according to Andrew Law, the district's assistant superintendent for learning and teaching.

He also said the district has had trouble hiring the part-time assistants, especially when it changed from operating the learning center from four days a week to five days a week. That made for "goofy" 3.25-hour shifts, he said.

The changes were among several proposed Monday for the 2018-19 school year.

The board will vote on the requests Feb. 26.

The district wants to stop sending students to the Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative's CLASS program, and instead run its own. CLASS (Children Learning Academic and Social Skills) is for children in elementary school whose primary needs are behavioral or emotional. This year, 9 of the 14 students in Mid-Valley's CLASS program come from the Geneva school district, at a cost of $35,000 per student, according to Anne Giarrante, Geneva's student-services director.

Board member David Lamb asked if the district should expect to keep the program, and if it could rejoin Mid-Valley's CLASS program if need be.

Superintendent Kent Mutchler said Mid-Valley is aware Geneva may be leaving the program, and understands it makes sense, instructionally and financially, for Geneva to run its own program.

"We greatly value Mid-Valley and that flexibility," he said.

Giarrante noted the changes in students' needs.

"We were seeing many students five, 10 years ago (needing special services) because they had a learning disability. Now they are qualifying under 'other health impaired' or 'emotionally disabled,'" she said.

"Other health impairment" is defined by the state as "having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever or sickle cell anemia; and adversely affects a child's educational performance."

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