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NL school board discusses special education services, failed levy and endowment fund

By ELLEN SIMMONS • Nov 23, 2018 at 2:00 AM

NEW LONDON —  New London school board members on Tuesday learned about special education services offered in the district. They also received a pitch about how those services could be improved.

By law, Director of Student Services Melissa Vorhies told the board, public schools must provide education to everyone from age 3 to 22.

Vorhies said the district has many ways of serving younger students, but there are older ones who pass all the requirements to graduate but are not ready to enter the work world.

She suggested the implementation of a “transitional unit” that would provide “functional living skills, job skills and real life work experiences.”

Vorhies outlined the benefits both to these students and the district, as well as some of the possible sources of funding for the project. She said she would like to see this program up and running in the next school year.

Board members discussed possible ways to implement it.

Superintendent Brad Romano said although the levy did not pass in the general election earlier this month, “our needs such as buses and roof repairs are still there.”

The board then discussed the best way to keep the bus fleet up to date.

“We have a responsibility to keep our students safe,” Kevin Babcock said.

Tim Grys agreed, saying: “Safety and security on the road is vital.”

It was noted the lease/purchase of several buses has worked well and these payments will end within a year. Up to three new buses could be purchased under the same type of arrangement using the money the school has budgeted for those payments. The administration will begin researching this matter.

Michele Skinn, advancement officer of the Huron County Community Foundation, and John Lendrum, a member of the Norwalk City School Board of Education, discussed the possible creation of a district endowment fund for New London.

Skinn said Norwalk’s endowment, established in 2001, is worth $1.7 million and uses $100,000 each year for projects such as scholarships and teacher grants. Western Reserve established a fund 11 years ago, which today is worth more than $400,000.

Board members indicated interest in this project and asked Romano to gather more information for their consideration.

In other business the board accepted the resignation of Raymond Wetherbee, maintenance/custodial employee, effect Nov. 7, and hired Leonard DeCarmine and Barbara McAusland as bus drivers.

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