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Montevideo, MN: "Schools across MN seeing continued rise in number of students" in SPED

Sept 27, 2019, Willmar (MN) West Central Tribune: Montevideo school's timely opening meets need for special education services Minnesota continues to see an increase in the number of students attending educational learning centers where staff and programming exist to meet their special needs. Montevideo dedicated the opening Wednesday of a new educational learning center. Many other rural centers are in buildings retrofitted for their new role. The Montevideo school is also unique for a rural area in that it holds a Ready Clinic that offers programming for preschool age children referred to it by medical and health care professionals. Its goal is early intervention. The Southwest West Central Service Cooperative and Montevideo joined to hold an open house and dedication ceremony on Wednesday for the new Educational Learning Center on the community's east end. The school offers special education programming for students from districts in a 30- to 40-mile radius of Montevideo. Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune MONTEVIDEO — Montevideo dedicated a new educational learning center for this region on Wednesday, and it comes just in time: It’s easily expected to be reach full enrollment before the year’s end. Schools across Minnesota are seeing a continued rise in the number of students in need of special education services, including many who need help that can only be provided outside of the traditional classroom in centers such as this one. The number of students enrolled in the educational learning centers operated by the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative serving this region has grown by 12 to 16 percent in each of the last five years, according to Bailey Rettmann, regional director for the learning centers. “We have not seen the ceiling hit,’’ said Rettmann of expectations that the numbers will continue to grow. “We don’t know where that ceiling is.” … The new school on the east end of Montevideo is unique for a rural area. It was designed specifically for its role, while other rural learning centers are often in facilities retrofitted for them. Along with classrooms and programming for students with autism and learning and behavioral challenges, the educational learning center in Montevideo also includes a Ready Clinic. It offers early intervention for youths ages birth to age 6 who are referred by physicians and mental health professionals. It’s the first Ready Clinic to be opened by the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative, but executive director Cliff Carmody hopes to eventually replicate what is in Montevideo at the other five educational learning centers it operates. There’s not a lot of access in rural areas to proactive, preventative help, he explained. Carmody and members of the cooperative’s board of directors joined with the Montevideo community to host the dedication ceremony and an open house. The 22,500-square-foot facility offers lots of natural lighting, spacious classrooms and security. It is divided into two pods to provide services for students based on whether autism and learning difficulties or behavioral challenges are to be addressed…. Twelve students are now enrolled in the Montevideo Education Learning Center, which is built to accommodate 25 to 30. Its enrollment is expected to reach 25 by the end of this year, based on contacts with districts in its service area, according to Rettmann and Mindy Halverson, the school’s administrator. They said the design of the building would allow for an expansion to double its enrollment in the future…. Interest in the services provided by the Ready Clinic is already strong as well. It’s received 18 referrals already, according to its director, Amber Bruns. That’s despite the fact that she admits one of her first challenges is just getting the word out to health care professionals in the region that this facility and its services are available. Rettmann said it’s believed that a variety of factors are responsible for the growing need for the services offered by the center and the clinic. Years ago, some of these students would not have received an education. They would have been kept on the farm to work, or sent to work elsewhere in place of being educated, he said. Other students have medical conditions that would not have allowed them to survive beyond infancy. He also pointed out that the awareness of mental health needs has grown. Some of these students would have been ignored and left to sit in the back of classrooms, he said. …
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