CHARLESTON — Providing a "continuum" of services was the stated benefit of a special education program for middle school students with emotional disabilities that received approval Wednesday.

The Charleston school board voted to add the program beginning with the 2019-20 school year, mirroring a move last year establishing a program at the elementary school level.

With a program already in place at Charleston High School, the success shown with the elementary program made the addition the next step, district special education Coordinator Robert Lynn told the board.

"We feel like it's been very successful," Lynn said. "We needed that continuum of services."

He said one of the main benefits is that the district can send fewer students to the Transitional Learning Center in Kansas. That results in a better, less-restrictive education environment for the students and a cost savings for the district, he said.

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Lynn said there will be costs to start the program at Charleston Middle School, namely salaries for an additional teacher and a paraprofessional.

There will also need to construct a room specifically for part of the program, which the district can fund from school facilities sales tax revenue, he also told the board.

Lynn said there will likely be three or four students with emotional disabilities in the middle school program next year.

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With the elementary program put in place this year, a total of seven students who attended the TLC were returned to Charleston school classrooms.

Also Wednesday, the board conducted a public hearing required in order for the district to have student attendance on some state holidays.

The hearing was needed for the district to apply to renew the 10-year holiday waiver that's expiring.

The district plans to have student attendance on Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Casimir Pulaski Day during the 2019-20 school year.

With the new waiver, the district will have attendance on Columbus Day for the first time. That was to avoid another day without attendance during a week when parent-teacher conferences are scheduled.

The board's other votes Tuesday included several personnel items, among them the appointment of Charleston Middle School teacher Blain Mayhall as the school's dean of students starting with the 2019-20 school year.

That goes along with Eddie Williams becoming a full-time assistant principal at Jefferson Elementary School. Williams currently splits time between that position and as assistant principal at CMS.

The board also approved the resignation of Charleston High School band director Laney Cruit, who also teaches at CMS and Mark Twain Elementary School.

Another resignation the board approved was that of Nathan Hinote as CHS speech team coach. Hinote is expected to stay in his English teaching position at the high school.

Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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