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Indianola, IN: SPED numbers 'have increased significantly,' new post added

Dec 11, 2023, Indianola (IA) Independent Advocate: Indianola School Board adds key position to special education, organizes for the year
In response to “ever increasing” special education numbers, the Indianola School Board voted to add a key administrative position to that program as early as Jan. 1.

The topic came up during the Nov. 28 regular meeting, first in a report by the human resources committee, then as an action item.

“Our students identified as special education have increased significantly in recently years, and our personnel to support them have not kept the same pace,” said school board member Ben Metzger, who has sat on the committee.

He invited Sarah Baker, the district’s special programs director, to give the board a snapshot of the program’s growth. She said that 415 students were enrolled in special education districtwide five years ago, but now that number has exceeded 500.

Even beyond the rise in numbers is the increase in needs per student, she added. Years ago, a student might have one reading goal, Baker gave as an example.

“That’s just not happening anymore,” she said. “Students move in and they have four different goal areas. They have associate support. They have really complex programs. … There are more of them and there are just more idiosyncrasies to their plans, which sometimes makes it feel like more than 503 (students).”…

The school board decided it was time to give the special education department a boost, voting unanimously to hire a 210-day secretary effective Jan. 1. But additional positions may be on the horizon, Metzger pointed out, such as staff at the elementary level who would focus on mental health and behavioral issues….

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