Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD

FY 2011 Operating Budget: Question & Answers

During the budget process, questions asked by members of the Board of Education are compiled. Appropriate staff from Montgomery County Public Schools respond to the questions with written answers that are forwarded to Board members.

Answers to other budget questions may be requested from the Department of Management, Budget, and Planning. Ask a budget question

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Questions 21-30


21. Are there existing PEP classes that serve students with significant developmental disabilities?

No, not in a five-hour per day program, as is proposed. Currently, PEP successfully serves students with varying profiles of needs and has established expertise in working with students with significant disabilities. Many students enrolled in PEP classes such as the Intensive Needs Class or those with medical needs continue to require unique supports and services, similar to the students who will qualify for the proposed classes. Clearly, the new classes will benefit from the expertise of PEP staff.

22. When will the classes begin?

It is proposed that one class for up to six children will begin in February 2010 to serve newly identified students with significant developmental disabilities. The remaining classes will open in August 2010, at the start of the 2010–2011 school year.

23. What is the proposed teacher/student ratio for these classes?

There will be one teacher and two paraeducators for six students. In addition, occupational and physical therapists and speech/language pathologists will be assigned to the classes. Consideration will be given for additional paraeducator support based on need and student IEPs. In addition to highly qualified classroom-based instructional and related services staff, MCPS experts in assistive technology, vision and hearing, mobility, behavior, autism, and others will provide integrated services to students whose IEPs require these services.

24. What is the proposed length of the school day?

Students attending these classes will receive instruction for five (5) hours a day, five (5) days each week.

25. Will there be support for families of students enrolled in these classes?

Yes. Each class will be supported by a parent educator and parents will have opportunities to attend programs provided by the MCPS Preschool Education Program staff.

26. When will staff members be hired?

Staff members for the class opening in February 2010 were interviewed in December and will be formally hired shortly. Staff for the remaining classes will be hired following the process outlined in the negotiated agreement with the Montgomery County Education Association contract. This agreement provides experienced teachers with the opportunity to apply for positions through the voluntary transfer process, which begins in April 2010. We are very fortunate in MCPS to have staff members, including teachers, therapists and supporting services staff, with expertise in the area of early childhood special education who have expressed interest in the new classes. We also have established relationships with colleges and universities that provide specialized programs for early childhood special education teachers and therapists.

27. Will instructional staff have experience in meeting the needs of students in these classes?

Experience in working with this population obviously will be an important consideration in the hiring process. Teachers will have to meet the certification requirements of the Maryland State Department of Education to provide instruction for prekindergarten special needs students. In addition to the knowledge and skills staff bring with them, MCPS offers a variety of high quality professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of staff through a comprehensive professional development program that includes job-embedded training. Professional staff new to MCPS benefit from the ongoing assistance of consulting teachers or mentors. Consultation with parent educators, speech/language pathologists, assistive technology specialists, occupational and physical therapists, autism specialists, behavior specialists, psychologists, and a myriad of other MCPS staff members are integral components of the services students in these classes may receive.

28. What curriculum will be used to support the IEP goals of students?

As with all prekindergarten general and special education classes, the approved MCPS prekindergarten curriculum is the basis for the day-to-day instructional program. The MCPS curriculum is aligned to the Maryland State Curriculum and the Maryland Model for School Readiness. MCPS has extensive experience in modifying or adapting curriculum to meet the IEP goals of preschool students with significant developmental delays, including those enrolled in other unique PEP programs. Additional instructional supports will be provided through the expertise of PEP staff and MCPS speech/language pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, assistive technology, behavior and autism specialists, psychologists, and other service providers as indicated by student need.

29. Who will be responsible for oversight of the new classes?

Oversight of the new classes will be provided through the Division of Prekindergarten, Special Programs and Related Services (DPSPRS). Ms. Felicia Piacente, director, DPSPRS, and Ms. Julie Bader, supervisor, Child Find and Early Childhood Disabilities Unit (CFECDU), will provide direct oversight to these additional classes (PEP is a component of CFECDU). Both PEP and school administrators also will share monitoring responsibility for the classes.

30. How are the MPAC classes staffed?

MPAC classes have a published ratio of one teacher and one paraeducator for nine students. As with MCPS, considerations for additional paraeducator support are based on the needs of individual students, which may impact the class ratio. Classes are offered for 23 hours per week. Related services, including speech and occupational and physical therapy, are provided. A parent liaison and two curriculum specialists support the school. The MPAC curriculum is also aligned with the Maryland Curriculum and the Maryland Model for School Readiness. School psychologist support is provided to MPAC students by MCPS.

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