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Oregon: Schools face "influx of out-of-state students" with "complex issues"

Aug 3, 2019, Coos Bay (OR) World: Influx of special ed students hits South Coast schools COQUILLE — An influx of out-of-state students is filling school systems on the southern Oregon coast. At the Coquille School District, the majority of students arriving have complex issues or are in need of special education services. Coquille School District Superintendent Tim Sweeney broke down the numbers, which are always based on the December student count. He pointed first to Dec. 1 of 2016, which showed 95 students identified with needing special education services. But then on Dec. 1 of 2018, the district had 145 students in need of those services. “At the end of this past school year, May 15 of 2019, our special education director told me we had 190 students receiving special education services,” Sweeney said. … However, it’s not just the CSD that is seeing this increase. Sweeney said it is happening in adaptive life skills programs across the region. “We’re seeing more complex needs come into the area than we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “We’re seeing students that have more aggressive behaviors toward peers and teachers. We see students struggling to control their emotions.” To deal with the increase, the CSD established a Structured Learning Center to help those students identified with behavior concerns. This means students are put into smaller classes to manage behaviors more effectively, lessen stimuli that can create stresses and behavior outbursts, Sweeney explained. On top of that, CSD has gone from three special education teachers in 2015 to eight licensed teachers and tripled its educational assistant program. “Because students come with more challenging behaviors and educational needs, they are funded at twice the rate of other students,” Sweeney said. “Funding from the state is how we keep classes small and give teachers more support. Our special education department has expanded to meet the need of children we’re serving now.”…. “These kids are across the age spectrum,” he said, adding that there has been a big change in the overall school system that could be impacting this as well. “We didn’t usually identify students who needed special education until second or third grade, but are now seeing students come to us from pre-k, from Head Start, from kindergarten, and are having to address those needs immediately.” … the strong partnerships with South Coast (Education Service District) for that help.” But from where he sits, he doesn’t see the influx slowing down soon. In fact, it has been a challenge for CSD to find teachers with a special education endorsement and educational assistants with the patience needed to work with these kids. “Staffing is a big deal, but I don’t see it slowing down any time soon,” he said.


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