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March 24, 2004

Deaf, hard of hearing project must find new home

From: Record-Searchlight - Redding,CA,USA - Mar 24, 2004

Mistletoe's growing enrollment will bring a change

Rob Rogers Record Searchlight

March 24, 2004 — 2:07 a.m. After 30 years at Mistletoe Elementary School, the Shasta County Office of Education's deaf and hard of hearing program is having to look for a new home.

Mistletoe, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Redding, has housed the program on campus since its inception.

However, as Mistletoe's enrollment grows — there's a waiting list for students who live outside school boundaries to get in — Enterprise Elementary School District officials will need the portable where the seven deaf or hard of hearing students meet. The district told the county it won't have the space necessary to house the program possibly beginning this fall.

The Shasta County Office of Education's Facilities Planning Advisory Committee met Tuesday to discuss the situation. The board will act in an advisory role to the Special Education Local Plan Area, the state's arm in managing local special education. SELPA has formed a subcommittee to decide the best course for the program.

"The district, the parents and the county office are all working together to find a solution," said Assistant Superintendent Karen Kratzer.

The subcommittee will look at moving the program either to a new school, a new school district or finding a way to keep it at Mistletoe.

"(Enterprise has) been trying really hard to be accommodating," said Kathy Thompson, the county office of education's director of student programs.

The Enterprise district at one point offered to house the program at Rother School, where it would be across the street from Parsons Middle School. An important part to the deaf and hard of hearing program is using its host school to integrate the students into regular school life during the day. SELPA requires this by law in order for special education programs to get the federal and state money they require.

Now the subcommittee is looking at just buying another portable to place at Mistletoe so the class wouldn't have to leave the campus.

However, buying a portable would cost the county more than $30,000. County Facilities Manager Rob Barnes said it could cost much more.

"Are there any other districts that have space?" asked Shasta County Board of Education Trustee Diane Gerard.

The universal response was no. In February, the deaf and hard of hearing program contacted a number of school districts that possibly had extra space. One of them was Grant School District, where Grant School had two portables on campus that weren't in use.

Grant, however, turned the program down because it didn't have the extra money required to run the program, and the county wasn't able to reimburse the district for the use of its portables.

It's become a difficult problem to solve. County and district officials are having to balance budget concerns with the needs of their students and both want to make sure the students' needs come first.

"It's always difficult because you have to keep the kids in mind," Thompson said.

Reporter Rob Rogers can be reached at 225-8217 or at

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