Special ed co-op mooves forward with relocating CLASS program

PBES classrooms to be remodeled

Staff reporter

In the spirit of cooperation, Peabody-Burns USD 398 is doing everything it can to make a project work with Marion County Special Education Cooperative.

During Monday's cooperative board meeting, USD 398 Superintendent Rex Watson told the board that his board of education was willing to finance the remodeling of two classrooms at Peabody-Burns Elementary School at Peabody for the special education CLASS program.

Special education cooperative director Chris Cezar presented information from Kelly McMurphy of Landmark Architects and Engineers, regarding projected costs to make the classrooms conducive for the special needs students.

Preliminary costs included a new ADA-compliant ramp and separate entrance at a cost of $75,000 to $80,000; remodeling to accommodate a washer and dryer and necessary cabinets for $5,000 to $5,500; installation of a new ADA-compliant unisex bathroom for $8,500 to $9,000; and the installation of a new wall and two new doors and frames to separate the classroom as required for the program for $10,000 to $12,500.

School officials determined that the existing school entrance would be sufficient which eliminated a separate entrance and ramp. Existing school bathroom facilities also were determined to be ADA-compliant and sufficient for the student body and CLASS students which will not require an additional bathroom.

Marion USD 408 representative Lyle Leppke asked if the special needs students needed a separate bathroom rather than being included in the general student population.

Watson responded there were other bathrooms available if a student needed privacy. He also suggested a "mailbox" system where a red flag, similar to one on a mailbox, could be displayed when the bathroom was off limits to the general school population.

Leppke said that was fine as long as the special education students had the necessary facilities.

Cezar said staff uses a changing table for some students which needed to be located in a closed area, preferably surrounded by walls.

It was suggested that a partition or portable walls be used instead of a permanent wall.

Watson said there was a divider located in one of the rooms that will be used by the cooperative.

Leppke then asked Watson what USD 398 would charge for a lease.

Watson said the district was willing to finance the project with costs recouped by being divided among the five school districts during a five-year period.

The lease would cover costs such as custodial and utilities.

Watson said he didn't think those costs would be more than $500 per month or $4,500 per school year.

The cooperative board came to the consensus that Cezar would move forward with the architectural drawings and process for having the rooms approved by the state. USD 398 would be in charge of the construction of the project, seeking bids, etc. The bids will be presented to the cooperative board before final approval. Watson was to report to the cooperative at a future meeting regarding the particulars of a lease agreement.

Marion USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker reported to the board that negotiations were continuing with the City of Florence regarding the city taking over the ownership of two of the cooperative buildings.

In other business:

— The board approved the purchase of a new voicemail system for $2,176 with Phone Connections. A recent power outage or electrical surge caused the system to become inoperable which also included the toll-free number to the facility.

— Auditor Jessica Kirk of Agler and Gaeddert presented the audit report for 2007.

Some notations and suggestions were made regarding the findings with no significant deficiencies reported.

Kirk recommended the cooperative create written internal control policies and procedures which was noted as a material weakness in the audit.

She suggested Cezar ask for similar policies from school districts to use as a model.

— School psychologist Regina Kimbrel reported on her attendance at the National Association for School Psychologists convention at New Orleans, La.

The association provides an advocacy for children and promotes the profession.

She reported she attended a workshop regarding mental disorders in students and that school psychologists are seeing an increase in disorders.

— Classified staff appointments of Nancy Elizabeth Finch, Sheila Anderson, and Krista Richert were approved. Licensed staff resignations from Kelli Meritt and Shayna Larson also were approved.

— The board went into a 10-minute executive session to discuss personnel. When the meeting reconvened there were no decisions.