Webutuck hoping to reschedule special student services
By CORY ALLYN - Staff Reporter
WEBUTUCK — Katy McEnroe, Webutuck Central School District’s principal for kindergarten through sixth grade, is looking to stagger the start times for elementary students.
As McEnroe explained during a visit before the Board of Education (BOE) at its Aug. 9 meeting, scheduling implemented last year allowed for a 20-minute morning period before any students arrived at school. Teachers were using this “collaboration time” to exchange information about students and curriculum.
“It was extremely useful and helpful,” McEnroe said, “and it didn’t pull teachers out during the day for meetings.”
She’d like to see that schedule continue this year, and additionally is looking for another scheduling change that would provide a similar morning block for special services students, which include speech, English Language Learners (ELL) and Academic Intervention Services (AIS) among others.
Those children would potentially ride to school on the high school bus and receive help before their first period began. That way, McEnroe explained, they wouldn’t be missing out on class time in the middle of the day to receive special educational services. Approximately 35 percent of the school’s student population receives Academic Intervention Services, according to the principal.
“And there are many students receiving multiple services,” she added. “They’re losing up to two hours of class time each day.”
Superintendent Steven Schoonmaker said the administration is currently looking over schedules to ensure that the changes won’t have any adverse effects on other school programs, or in the high school.
One of the issues that came up was determining which students would need special services this year. McEnroe said that AIS qualification relies on state testing results from last year, but the due date of that data from the state has repeatedly been postponed and it’s unclear when the numbers will actually arrive.
She told the BOE that Webutuck’s own system of testing was more accurate in detecting students who would qualify for special services, and the board asked her to compile a preliminary list to give a rough idea of how many kids might be in the program.
“I hate waiting for the state,” said BOE Vice President Joe Herald. “If our tests are better at identifying weaknesses, the worst that could happen is that we’d be giving too many students extra help.”
Schoonmaker said that of all the students who were utilizing services last year, there would be, at the most, two or three who wouldn’t qualify again this year.
“The more proactive we are about student weaknesses, the better we’ll be about academic performance in the future,” BOE President Dale Culver said.
McEnroe said she would put together a rough list by the end of the week and would also send out a blanket letter to all parents asking if they would object to their child potentially riding the high school bus.
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