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E. Grand Forks: "Increase in special education needs and 'elevated behaviors'"

Mar 20, 2022, Grand Forks (ND) Herald: East Grand Forks Public Schools weighs its special ed needs

EAST GRAND FORKS — East Grand Forks teachers and administrators are considering how they might improve — or at least fine-tune space for — special education services there. A working group composed of special ed teachers, building principals, and special and community education administrators has met twice this year to go over changes the district could make to better accommodate special ed students. “We haven’t come up with any plans, yet,” Superintendent Mike Kolness told the Herald. “This is just really a brainstorming session…We’re in the process of analyzing things and seeing what we can do better.”… District staff formed the work group in the first place because of an increase in special education needs and "elevated behaviors," according to those notes. … The number of students who receive special education services at East Grand Forks Public Schools has risen from 254 in the 2016-17 school year to 366 this school year, according to Tiffany Litman, an assistant director at Area Special Education Cooperative who’s been at the working group’s two meetings thus far. The co-op is an East Grand Forks-based coalition of 11 northwestern Minnesota school districts that pool their money to hire specialists — school psychologists, interpreters, teachers for the deaf or blind, and so on — that a single member district might not be able to financially justify on its own…. Kolness told school board members on Monday, March 14, that the district is using every square foot of space it has, something he repeated to the Herald on Wednesday. When asked whether the workgroup was kicking around a new or expanded building, the superintendent said the district is “always looking at options” and is considering what its physical needs are, especially if a preschool program there continues to grow. When pressed, he said there’s been “some discussion” of a new or expanded building in the workgroup’s meetings…. So, if the district is mulling the idea of a separate facility or a preschool center, but probably can’t come up with the money for something larger than a classroom renovation on its own, does that mean a building referendum might be on the horizon? “I wouldn’t put that out there, no. I don’t want to say that,” Kolness said. He noted that districtwide enrollment has more-or-less leveled off: 1,874 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade are enrolled at East Grand Forks Public Schools, according to a count taken this month. That’s slightly larger than the 1,866 students recorded at the same time last year but slightly smaller than the figures recorded in the two school years before that. Steady or decreased enrollment could preclude the need for a new facility or large-scale renovations to an existing one….


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