The Carthage School District is looking for a way to provide better service to children before they enter school and to children with special needs, and they're looking to the federal government for help to finance a new building.
Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said the federal government, which funds many special education programs in the district, might reimburse the district for a building to house the district's Early Childhood Special Education.
That program is now housed in leased space at the Fairview Christian Church in Carthage, “due to the enrollment growth that we're experiencing in our elementary schools.”
“We would like to bring this program back into a district-owned facility,” Henningsen told the Carthage R-9 Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday. “We believe our program is eligible for full reimbursement for the construction costs of an Early Childhood Special Education facility that will house children who meet Missouri's eligibility criteria for special services.”
Beth James, director of special services for the district, said they hoped to combine federal funds with local money to build a building to house not only the Early Childhood Special Education program, but the Title 1 Preschool program and the Parents As Teachers program as well.
“This is for all those programs that are separated now,” James said. “Early Childhood is at Fairview Christian Church and the Title 1 Preschool is at Steadley Elementary. We're wanting to put them under one roof, along with Parents As Teachers, which are located in the basement of the Transition Center. The portion that the federal government will pay for is the Early Childhood Special Education portion, so we're looking at trying to get some outside sources to be able to add Parents As Teachers and the Title 1 program.”
Kim Ensminger, director of the Title 1 Preschool program, and Jane Goad, director of the Parents as Teachers both reported on their programs at Monday's School Board meeting.
All three programs have moved from building to building frequently in the past few years.
“Because we're not tied to the curriculum that the other classrooms and because we can get that financial support from the federal government, when classrooms were getting so cramped and they needed space, we were a department that was able to move and not cost the district any money,” James said. We were able to save four classrooms in the elementary buildings, which was great. Fairview and Steadley both have added kindergartens because we were able to move out of those buildings and didn't cost the taxpayers any money.
“It would be much better if they were under one roof, they could service the kids better.”
Ensminger, with the Title 1 program, said her students and the students in the Early Childhood Special Education program, need regular education models so they can learn how to learn in school.
Page 2 of 2 - “Not only would we like Title 1 and Early Childhood Special Education to be together, but we would like to have the Parents as Teachers program in there too because they're the first resource for us and that's how our kiddos are referred to both programs,” she said. “We think we could better collaborate and best use the facilities, staff, resources if we were all together under one roof.”
James said the federal government may fund as much as 60 square feet of building space per child in the federal programs, meaning as much as 9,600 square feet of space for Carthage.
Henningsen said the district was at the very start of the process of asking for federal funds, so they are still months or even years from learning what the district might be able to build, if anything.