District expands special services locations
The number of locations that house Douglas County School District’s elementary-level special services programs will double next year.
The district is increasing the number of elementary schools that offer special services programs from two to four.
This year the district is serving just more than 600 students with disabilities. Of those students, about 200 are at the elementary-school level, which includes 3-years-olds to fifth-graders, as well as sixth-grade students at Zephyr Cove Elementary School.
Currently, the district offers two types of special education services: comprehensive life skills (CLS) and social-emotional leaning (SEL). Both sets of classes are offered at Meneley and Scarselli elementary schools. The schools are located in Gardnerville and are just 1.5 miles from each other.
For students who require services and live in outlying areas of the county such as Indian Hills, that can mean up to a 45-minute to an hour bus ride one way to get to school, said Melissa Rains, assistant director of special services.
For the 2017-18 school year, the district will offer comprehensive life skills classes at Scarcelli and Pinon Hills elementary schools.
Pinon Hills was built with classrooms specifically designed to house students with special needs, said Jacque Matteoni, executive director of special services.
“You want to utilize and have appropriate spaces for kids,” she said.
Students who attend comprehensive life skills classes are typically those who are considered intellectually disabled or multiply impaired and require alternative curriculum with their core academics, she said.
Next year the social emotional program is being redesigned to a behavior academic support (BAS) class. The classes will be offered at Meneley and Gardnerville elementary schools.
The behavior academic support classes are being designed for students with needs not met in the comprehensive life skills program, including those with communication disorders or those with Autism. Those students are often at, or almost at, grade level but need social communication and pragmatic language development, Rains said.
At the middle school level, CLS is offered at both Carson Valley and Pau Wa Lu middle schools. Next year it will only be offered at Carson Valley, Matteoni said.