By Ed Harris
The Board of Education is once again looking at the possibility of bringing its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program in-house, a proposal that has some parents worried that the program could face a decline.
The program is currently run by the Capital Region Education Council (CREC). Several parents, all sharing stories of how their autistic children have thrived under CREC tutelage, questioned whether the transition would be successful.
“I think they currently have one of the best programs in the state,” said Lisa Davis. “I hope that serious consideration is given to the CREC program.”
Davis also questioned the cost savings, about $100,000 in the first year, according to early numbers provided by school officials. She believes the costs will actually increase after the initial savings are had.
Joseph Marino questioned how school officials would be able to the proposed program to one administered by CREC, as no one has established a baseline on CREC versus non-CREC programs, according to Marino.
“I have doubts if this will be a successful transition,” Marino said. “I am not sure if this program can replace it.”
Both Davis and Marino urged the Board of Education to look at other communities that had tried to bring ABA programs in-house, but failed.
Perri Murdica, the senior coordinator of special education for Southington schools, presented the proposal to the school board at last week’s meeting. Murdica said the program would be phased in and would use the existing CREC program as a model. “It’s the two groups working together,” she said.
Under the proposal, students currently in the program will keep their CREC advisors, but new students entering the program, as other students move up in grade levels, would instead have advisors from within the district.
Several Board of Education members noted similar proposals to bring the program in-house had come before the board over the years, but those typically called for a town takeover, right from the beginning. Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski said he was hesitant with these types of proposals in the past, but noted that he backed the current proposal due to the phasing in element.
“We want ownership,” Goralski said. “I’m comfortable with the plan because of the phasing in.”
The school board did not make a decision on the proposal at last week’s meeting. Instead they have asked for more information and will take up the issue again at one of its two meetings this month.