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Normal, IL: Elem school works to meet "expanding SPED needs"

Jan 23, 2019, Normal, IL, NPR, University of IL: Colene Hoose Addition Helps Meet Expanding Special Education Needs Unit 5 board members joined Normal Town Council members for a tour of the new addition at Colene Hoose Elementary School on Tuesday night. Unit 5’s board approved a $1 million contract for the work back in July. Land dedication fees collected by the Town of Normal from developers served as the primary funding source for the project. Unit 5 spokesperson Dayna Brown said the final cost totals about $1.12 million, with the town contributing about $720,000 and Unit 5 covering the remaining $400,000. Adam Zbrozek, the school’s principal, said the conversation began a few years ago with the need for larger classrooms for the school’s special education program. “It’s a program that is growing in numbers, and as a district we wanted to be sure we were providing the best possible service that we could,” he said…. Rather, “We want to help them learn the skills and dispositions they need in order to work with and amongst all the other students that may be in other classrooms,” with the goal of eventually reintegrating students into general education at their home schools, he said. Zbrozek gave the group a look inside the school’s old special education facilities, including a “calming space” at the end of a narrow hallway. Zbrozek explained the small padded room with a glass window is for students “who may be unsafe for themselves or others in the classroom,” Zbrozek explained. “If there’s a physical concern, at that point we definitely have to work with students a little bit differently, and for students who struggle with emotional regulation that is something we have to do on a regular basis with this program,” he said. The addition includes three new, larger padded rooms. They’ll eventually be outfitted with speakers so that teachers can play soothing music or send reassuring messages to children in distress. Zbrozek said the calming spaces are a last resort. With the addition the program now offers four full-size classrooms, nearly tripling the available learning space, Zbrozek said. …


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