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Billerica, MA: Districts hires 4 behavior expects; 21 "classroom displacements" last year

Oct 18, 2018, Lowell (MA) Sun: New specialists target social, emotional skills http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_32215270/new-specialists-target-social-emotional-skills One was a classroom teacher. One was a social worker. Another, a licensed mental health coordinator. The fourth, a teacher for students with severe disabilities. Their backgrounds are diverse, but today they have the same goal: establish supports for the social and emotional needs of Billerica Public Schools students…. Social-emotional learning is a hot topic for people in educational circles, many of whom report increased behavioral challenges and heightened anxiety among students. The exact reason for this elevated need is unclear, with educators pointing to an array of possibilities including trauma, the effects of the opioid epidemic and a tendency to keep more students in-district. Billerica Public Schools Superintendent Tim Piwowar's said increased awareness may also play a role. … Regardless, anecdotal and conflicting reports of classroom displacements -- or times when the majority of a class is removed from a room in order to calm a student who is in crisis -- were discussed enough in the 2016/2017 school year for the district to start keeping track, Piwowar said. Last school year, the district had 21 classroom displacements, according to district records. … He also placed four Social Emotional Learning Support Specialists in the district's budget for the 2017/2018 school year. The positions were continued this year, costing the district $308,186 in the most recent budget. … They serve two groups of students at these schools: tier one and tier two. Tier one students are the typical elementary students. Tier two students are children with extra behavorial needs. … McGreenery said they may also identify students who could benefit from extra visuals or sensory fidget toys in the classroom. When a student acts out in a major way, they are also on the team of administrators that develop a response. …