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School board gets good news on Special Education

SARAH OLKKOLA, Effingham Elementary School Fourth Grade Teacher (center), looked on as Fourth Grade Student Tyler Edwards and Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert dissected an owl pellet at the school board’s March 5 meeting. The project is just one example of what students are able to do during an enrichment block, a period each day during which the students can learn about a personal interest by participating in groups such as science, art or keyboard clubs. For students who need it, each day this block of time is also used for math or literacy intervention as part of the school’s response to intervention (RTI) plan. (Heather Terragni photo) (click for larger version)
March 08, 2012
EFFINGHAM — School Board member Wendi Fenderson from New Durham sat in on her last school board meeting as part of the board at the Governor Wentworth Region School Board's March 5 meeting this past Monday.

Each school board member took a moment to thank Fenderson for her work as a board member and wished her well in the future.

Superintendent Jack Robertson also complimented Fenderson for her dedication to the board and the district's students.

"I just want to thank Wendi. It's been a pleasure having you on the board… Maybe someday day you'll be back here again. I sure hope you will."

In turn Fenderson thanked the board and the voters for the chance to sit on the board and for helping create such a memorable three years. "It's been a great learning experience," she said before adding, "We have a wonderful board."

In other news, the district's Special Education Coordinator Susan Merrell provided a brief update on the special education department.

Overall, she said the numbers for students in the district with varying disabilities has been pretty consistent.

While 30 students in the district are currently identified as having autism, a disorder that Merrell says has the greatest variation in its range of impairment, 150 students are identified as having specific learning disabilities.

Merrell reported that the department was randomly chosen for two audits during the last school year – a Post Secondary Transition audit and a Medicaid to Schools program audit.

The first ensures that the district prepares students for life after high school by looking beyond school credits and talking about what students will do after school, whether it is further schooling or joining the workforce or the military. This helps give students a platform after graduation that can help ensure their success after high school.

Because of the dedication and hard work of Merrell and her special education staff Governor Wentworth received 100 percent compliance for this audit – a score that only eight of 22 randomly-chosen districts earned.

Additionally, because of the department's careful documentation, the district will be reimbursed $295,117.60 through the Medicaid for School program.

Robertson took a moment to commend the special education staff and Merrell for her leadership.

"I'm very proud of our program. It is noticed around the state and we have an outstanding reputation for our hard-working professionals and paraprofessionals."

Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert added, "Susan does such a great job in all aspects of special ed… She's got a very complicated job and I think she does it flawlessly."

Board member and Chair of the Buildings and Maintenance Committee Ernie Brown shared a brief update on the Kingswood complex building project.

While it feels as if it's moving in dribs and drabs, he said the project is making good progress overall and is on schedule. With sections of the buildings almost completed North Branch Construction anticipates having turned over roughly 85-90 percent of finished space within the next few weeks, with the remaining sections not scheduled to be completed by July at the latest.

Some of the areas nearing completion are the upper level of the middle school, classroom space in the high school that will allow the students currently studying in the Kingswood Art Center's lobby to return to the main building, the older portion of the middle school cafeteria, and the new entryway to the Lakes Region Technology Center. Also the modular buildings in front of the school are scheduled to be picked up in late April.

Robertson reported that the Associated Builders and Contractors. of New Hampshire and Vermont recently awarded the Kingswood Arts Center with the 2011 Excellence in Construction award.

The school board will meet next on Monday evening, April 2, beginning at 7 p.m. at the New Durham Elementary School.

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