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January 9, 2003

More special needs money coming to school board

From: Barrie Advance, Canada - 09 Jan 2003

Education news

Bruce Hain: The Advance
Jan. 9, 2003

New provincial funding to the tune of $4.5 million has been allocated, immediately, to support students with special needs at the Simcoe County District School Board.

The dollar amount received from the Ministry of Education will increase from $13.7 million, which had been budgeted for the 2002-2003 school year.

The funding is a direct result of the recently-released Rozanski Report, commissioned by the provincial government to make recommendations on how to bolster the Ontario public education system.

Board trustees received the information in a report presented by Jeannette Schieck, principal of special education, on Jan. 8. And more money is expected in the coming months.

The Simcoe board has received confirmation from the education ministry that it will receive 60 per cent of its "cycle four" funding for special needs students.

This will translate into "a significant infusion of dollars to support special education," said Joan Fullerton, superintendent of student services.

In the past 12 months, 1,225 claims for Intensive Support Amount (ISA) have been filed by the school board to the Ministry of Education. The purpose of the ISA is to provide school boards with special education funding, which responds to the number of students who are classified as "high needs", and must receive special programs or services in the classroom.

Eligibility criteria for ISA claims is determined by the ministry in several categories.

They include behaviour, deaf/hard of hearing, learning disability, pervasive developmental disorder/autism disorder, intellectually disability, and blind. Each claim is reviewed by the ministry before funding approval is granted.

There are two levels of funding available, depending on the severity of the student's need. The first is for $12,000 per year, the second, for $27,000 per annum.

For the 2001-2002 review, special education support staff, including consultants and resource staff, assisted in-school personnel in the collection of documentation to support the ISA claims. Each team was responsible for one or two of the profiles mentioned above. Temporary contract staff was hired to complete educational assessments, and to relay the results of these assessments to parents and school staff.

Approximately two per cent of the student population has a need for special education support. The new funding means that "many of the special education consultants are back working with the kids," Fullerton added.

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