The District’s Inclusion Program was implemented at the kindergarten level in the 2009-10 school year, and has been expanded to include one additional grade level each year. One method of meeting the needs of students in the inclusion classrooms is to use co-teaching (i.e., a general education and a special education teacher in the same classroom).

During a discussion of the revised financial projections on Feb. 21, Board member Eileen Budde questioned whether the Inclusion Program is adequately staffed as it rolls up to include additional grade levels, suggesting that additional teachers should be budgeted as the program expands.

Joyce Bartz, interim director of special education, prepared a new Inclusion Service-Delivery Model (characterized as a “working paper”) that was presented to the Finance Committee, but not discussed at the May 14 Finance Committee meeting. She said that as part of the inclusion effort the District has increased the number of special education teachers district-wide from 66 to 89, even as the number of identified special education students has decreased slightly.

She added that, including Park School, the District has 13 psychologists, 21.1 speech therapists, 23.5 social workers, 3.5 external PBIS Coaches, 8 Occupational Therapists, 2 physical therapists, 2 adaptive PE teachers, and 1 vision teacher. She said the District compares very favorably with surrounding schools in the ratio of students to these service providers.

Beginning in 2012-13, these staff members “will begin assisting with the delivery of classroom-based services,” said Ms. Bartz. “This represents a shift away from relying almost exclusively on pull-out services from related service staff toward more use of classroom-integrated approaches. These related service staff will assist in the implementation of the student’s goals and services alongside the general education staff. This increases the number of personnel who will be providing inclusive services.”

Schools can begin implementing elements of the “integrated model” in the 2012-13 school year, says the working paper. “A two-year phase-in may be necessary to help us polish the model and assure that IEPs are developed with the new model in mind.”

The Board scheduled the new model for discussion at a June Board meeting.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...