Montcalm County has wide variety of services for students with special needs


By Daily News • Last Updated 9:47 am on Monday, March 31, 2014

Teachers and aides at the Seiter Education Service Center take a moment during snack time to help feed several special education students on a recent afternoon. — Daily News/Cory Smith

By Kathleen Flynn

MAISD associate superintendent for special education

Every Child, Every School
 This is part two in a four-part informational series about a special education millage being requested by the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District. Voters will be asked to decide whether to approve the millage request on May 6.
• March 15: MAISD begins campaign to raise awareness about upcoming special education millage vote.
• March 22: Special Education: From early on to high school … one student’s story.
• Today: A look at what special education programs and services are available in Montcalm County.
• April 5: Transition: Special education adults plan for life after school.

Assisting students to make progress in the general curriculum is the role of every school educator, including special education staff.

In Montcalm County, the local school districts, as well as the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (MAISD), employ many staff who provide programs and services to children beginning at birth and ending at 26 years of age. Throughout Montcalm County schools, more than 1,700 students are receiving special education services.

The provision of special education programs and services can be divided into two categories — those offered by local school districts and those offered throughout the MAISD at the Seiter Education Center in Greenville or classrooms within the local school districts.

At local districts, there are many supports, including classroom programs and ancillary services. Those supports, in the form of classroom programs, include early childhood special education programs, resource rooms and classrooms for students with mild cognitive impairments. Special education services, such as speech and language pathologists and school social workers, are also available through each local school district.

Seiter Education Service Center special education student Devin Leonard partakes in a visual stimulation exercise on a recent afternoon at the Greenville school. — Daily News/Cory Smith

At the Montcalm County level, there is also a variety of supports for students with special needs. Beginning at birth, Early On and Parent Child Learning Group staff visit homes and offer playgroups to children and families up to 3 years of age. For children 3 to 6 years of age, the Little People Land Early Childhood Special Education Program provides a preschool classroom.

The Seiter Education Center in Greenville is a separate school for students with special needs. This school provides programs for students with the most significant special needs.

For students from kindergarten to 12th grade, the MAISD has classrooms within the Greenville and Central Montcalm school districts for students with autism, moderate cognitive impairments, emotional impairments and hearing impairments. The MAISD also hosts a community based vocational and community living program called, Transition Plus Hometown Stanton for students with moderate cognitive impairments from 18 to 26 years of age.

In addition to offering specific programs, the MAISD also employs many staff that provide services to assist students to make progress in the general curriculum. School nurses, school psychologists, teacher consultants (including those for students with autism, visual impairment, orientation and mobility needs), speech and language pathologists, school social workers, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and a transition coordinator help local district meet student needs.

The MAISD also offers special education transportation to each school within the county. Each day, MAISD buses travel more than 1,600 miles. That distance is equivalent to one bus driving from Greenville to El Paso, Texas. Many different types of equipment are used on the special needs buses. Each bus is equipped with a bus lift, wheelchair tie-downs, individual student seatbelts and integrated car seats. A fully equipped bus costs $140,000.

On May 6, each resident of a Montcalm County school district will be asked to vote on a proposed special education millage. Millage funds will support each of the programs and services described in this article. Additional millage funds will allow school districts to provide programming for general and special education students.

When special education is properly funded, general education programs benefit because they do not have to supplement the cost of special education. Every school, every child, vote.

For additional information, visit www.montcalmkids.org online or search for “Montcalm Kids” on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Students with special needs count
Students with special needs are counted each October just as their typically developing peers are. Last October, each local school district’s count of students with special needs was as follows:
Carson City-Crystal 84
Central Montcalm 214
Greenville 572
Lakeview 181
Montabella 126
Montcalm Area Intermediate School District 223
Tri County 292
Vestaburg 92
TOTAL 1,784 students
Students counted by disability area:
Learning disability 548
Speech and language impairment 450
Cognitive impairment 231
Otherwise health impairment 204
Autism spectrum disorder 118
Emotional impairment 110
Early childhood developmental delay 55
Severe multiple impairment 27
Hearing impairment 17
Physical impairment 16
Visual impairment 4
Traumatic brain injury 4
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