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Wiscasset, ME: "High needs" increase calls for more staff at local elem school

Jun 17, 2022, Wiscasset (ME) Newspaper: Wiscasset’s special education needs rise https://www.wiscassetnewspaper.com/article/wiscasset-s-special-education-needs-rise/161654

Some Wiscasset students’ high needs for special education may call for the school department to add staff, Special Education Director Ken Spinney said. He told school committee members June 14 in Wiscasset Middle High School’s library and carried on Zoom, they might wonder why he did not speak up in budget season.

“(This has) been creeping over the last few months ... I said one week, ‘Wow, I’m just blown away, in one week, how things can change.’” He expects Wiscasset Elementary School to need a fourth special education teacher. “We need to build (the program) up in order to maintain safe and appropriate programming.”

WES Principal Kathleen Pastore concurred. Students are joining WES with an “increase of unique and challenging needs ... for whatever the reason, but students seem to be coming (with those),” she said. The pandemic may have had something to do with it, she said.

Spinney suggested starting a program for autism. “I’m a firm believer that (with) children between the ages of 3 and 7 (who have) autism, if you can reach them ... early, it pays dividends for life.”

And at WMHS, Spinney said Sheepscot Regional Educational Program, for students with high behavioral or social-emotional challenges, needs staffing to restart. There about two applicants for a teacher, he said. “I want to see that program happen.” In the meeting and in his written update to the committee, he also floated the idea of Wiscasset forming its own program. “We continue to see an increase in students with severe behaviors and without this type of program, we will likely see an increase in additional adult supports or out of district placements,” he wrote. But as with the regional program, a Wiscasset program would also take highly experienced staff, he added….


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