By Ed Harris
The Board of Education has voted unanimously to bring its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program in-house, a decision that has left some parents worried that the program could face a decline.
The program is currently run by the CapitQal Region Education Council (CREC). Over the course of the last several school board meetings, numerous parents, all sharing stories of how their autistic children have thrived under CREC tutelage, questioned whether the transition would be successful.
“This is an area of huge risk,” said Mike Goralski, who noted that his son has shown great improvement under the supervision of CREC.
CREC has worked with the Southington school system for the past 15 years.
Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi said that CREC typically comes in, assists and then moves on. Erardi said he was confident that the district could take over the program.
“They’ve [CREC] held our hands for a long time,” he said.
School officials said the program would be phased in and would use the existing CREC program as a model.
Under the change, 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.
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.
“I sincerely believe we can and will provide the same level of service,” said Board of Education member Terri Carmody, echoing the sentiments of the school board.
School board member Colleen Clark said that the district’s staff would also be available to parents during after school hours and over the summer, like the CREC representatives are currently.
“I believe that we can do it better,” she said.
There was a small moment of contention during the discussion of the proposal, as school officials noted that they were not fully aware of how CREC measured the success of its program and a few school board members questioned how they would measure the success of the new in-house program. Officials said that the Southington measurements would include goals, objectives and feedback with parents.
Bringing the program in house is expected to save the school district $100,000.
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