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SACS votes to end special ed cooperative

– Changes to Southwest Allen County Schools’ special-education department are coming.

The school board voted Tuesday in favor of dissolving the SNS Advisory Board – a group that oversees the special-education cooperative for Southwest Allen, Northwest Allen and Smith-Green Community Schools.

The advisory board will remain for next school year but will be dissolved July 1, 2014.

After that point, the three districts will establish memorandums of understanding so they can continue to share special-needs personnel as needed, but will eliminate the sharing of special-education programs, said Roxanne May, director of special education at Southwest Allen.

Dissolving the board has been in the works for several years as the three districts worked to establish separate programs, May said.

May said all three districts will need to approve the change before the advisory board is officially dissolved.

“It won’t be a huge change here at Southwest,” May said, explaining that Southwest Allen does not currently share programs with the other two districts.

Northwest Allen and Smith-Green share at least one program for special-needs students, she said.

The biggest change for the district will involve how often a Southwest Allen special-education teacher is shared with the other two districts, she said.

“We’ll still do that, but on a very limited basis,” she said.

The board also approved a coordinator of special education, a position that will be filled by Patty Hartman, a current Southwest Allen employee. Hartman will assist May in supervising the district’s special-education activities.

Also Tuesday, the board approved a change to the district’s four full-time psychologists.

May requested that the board extend contracts for the four psychologists to 191 days for this school year and 196 days for each following school year.

The change would add five days this school year and 10 days for future years, she said, giving school psychologists additional time to complete educational evaluations, write reports, attend case conferences and complete other necessary paperwork.

“Over the last few years, the school psychologists’ job responsibilities have increased, as have the director’s responsibilities related to administrative and compliance requirements,” May said.

Business manager Jim Coplen said there would be no additional cost for the added days because of retirements.