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Madison, WI: Debate over $4M expansion of alternative SPED program

Nov 25, 2019, Madison WI, Capital Times: Updated: Madison School Board to consider $4 million building purchase for special ed programming https://madison.com/ct/news/local/education/madison-school-board-to-consider-million-building-purchase-for-special/article_5b946dee-6551-5aff-81b9-717d6dea4e06.html The Madison Metropolitan School District could have a new home for some of its off-campus special education and professional development programming early next year. An item on the School Board’s Nov. 25 agenda that would authorize the $4 million purchase of a 30,000-square-foot office building at 333 Holtzman Road, east of Badger Lane and south of the Beltline, was referred to a December meeting for further discussion…. “Throughout the 2018-19 school year, the Board of Education expressed the need to expand our alternative special education programming that was showing positive potential for students,” the staff members wrote. According to the memo, the $4 million would come from funds the district saved when three tax-increment financing districts closed, and would not require taking on any debt…. “It is unacceptable to have this decision buried in the consent agenda and being approved without any public discussion with community stakeholders,” the post states. “Feedback about special education from the community several years ago put a priority on increased staffing and professional development, not the expansion of segregated learning environments for students receiving special education services.” The group promoted finding space within existing schools for special education programming. “Expanding segregated special education programs has shown to be ineffective for students and further marginalizes and isolated our students with disabilities,” the post states. “Many of our school buildings have open spaces that could be utilized at no cost to the district. Having alternative programs embedded in our neighborhood schools allows students with disabilities to interact with their peers.”…