By JEN CARDINES
Southington Public Schools is looking to hire a teacher for hearing impaired students in the school system. The Board of Education plans to address the topic during their Aug. 10 meeting in hopes of implementing the new staff member for the first day of school.
The district contracts with the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford and Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Soundbridge in Wethersfield to accommodate hearing impaired students, but policy changes prompted Southington officials to be proactive.
“The American School for the Deaf changed their policy and won’t be providing services in local districts,” Superintendent Timothy Connellan said.
This affects certain students in the district who received aid in their schools from a professional at ASD. Connellan said that some students were serviced in Southington, while others attended programs at Soundbridge or ASD. Soundbridge is a regional program that promotes listening and speaking in children with hearing loss. Just like other CREC locations, local school districts are responsible for transportation and tuition costs associated with sending a child there.
“Instead of paying money to ASD, funds will come from the purchase services account to have an in-house person that can provide to multiple students,” Connellan said. “With this restructuring, we will better service the students without additional costs. It gives us flexibility.”
If the Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a student calls for them to be educated full time or part time at another school, such as ASD or CREC Soundbridge, the student would still be transported to that location and receive services at that school. Hiring a teacher of the hearing impaired in Southington would preclude the need to have consultation services be provided from an outside source.
A job description was approved by the BOE policy and personnel committee, and they will seek approval of the position during the regular BOE meeting on Aug. 10. Connellan said the goal is to have the new staff member start on the first day of school.
Once hired, the teacher will travel to any school in Southington that has students requiring their service. Since ASD can no longer provide work outside of their campus, Southington students can continue to receive accommodations with the new teacher.
“The person would work in multiple schools throughout the district,” Connellan said. “They would serve as many students in-district as possible given the constraints of the hours available in the school day or week.”
The superintendent said that there may still be need for some outside consultation services “due to the sheer number of students requiring support hours, but that outside consultation will be greatly reduced.”
The BOE meets on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Weichsel Center to take action on approving the position. If it is approved, SPS administration will review candidates and hire someone for September.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.