D-26 to add behavior specialist, teacher

CARY – District 26 has plans to add a behavior specialist and an additional classroom teacher next school year.

During the past year, District 26 has hired six consultants, privately or through the Special Education District of McHenry County, to work with seven students.

The district brings in outside consultants when a student has a significant behavioral crisis to keep the child from harming himself or herself or others.

“While these services are critical to the success and crisis intervention of our students, it can be difficult to find such behavioral specialists, particularly given the urgency with which this type of support is needed,” Director of Special Services Jennifer Thomas said in a district memo.

The consultants often cost $150 to $250 an hour, Thomas said.

“With the cost of the actual direct service, home support, assessments, meeting attendance, and consultation to the staff, the cost of these services approached the cost of hiring a full-time staff member,” Thomas said.

Hiring a behavior specialist full-time allows the district regular access for crisis intervention and preventive work.

The behavior specialist primarily will be based at Deer Path School and Cary Junior High, but will be available to the district’s other schools.

Thomas said having a full-time behavior specialist will fall into the current budget.

After putting together plans to bring back five classroom teachers, the district plans to increase that to six teaching positions.

The district used its recall list, which it created after cutting about one-third of its teaching staff, to bring back five teachers. However, the acceptance rate was lower than anticipated, which provided roughly $55,000 in savings to the district.

With the extra money, the district will add a fifth-grade teacher at Three Oaks School.

Before the additional teacher, the average class size for fifth grade at the school was 31 students.

The additional teacher brings the average class size to 26.7 for the entire district.

“Although class averages will continue to fluctuate between now and the start of the school year, the number of students and educational needs of students in this fifth-grade class warrant the addition of a teacher,” Superintendent Brian Coleman said in a district memo.

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