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FFCS board gets good report on students with disabilities

October 28, 2008
By KERRY McAVOY /The Leader-Herald

FONDA - The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District is meeting, exceeding or making progress on several state standards pertaining to disabled students, an official said at Monday's Board of Education meeting.

Special Programs Director Constance Spohn presented a study on how students with disabilities are doing at Fonda-Fultonville. The study was done as part of a state Education Department data profile to ensure districts are meeting state requirements for special education goals.

In the 2006-07 school year, there were 203 students with disabilities in the district, about 12 percent of the total population.

The participation level of disabled students in regular classrooms the elementary school was 97.7 percent, higher than the state-mandated 95 percent.

Spohn said the district also exceeds the state standards for students in a separate school setting. Fonda-Fultonville only has 1.5 percent of its students in a singular special-needs setting outside the district, much lower than the state standard of 6.5 percent or less.

One area in which the district fell a bit short was the amount of time disabled students participate in regular classroom settings. The state calls for more than 55 percent of disabled students to spend more than half of each school day in a regular classroom. Only 34 percent of the district's special-needs students meet this standard.

Spohn said Fonda-Fultonville has a shorter school day than most districts - 6 hours instead of the typical 7 or 8. This means if students are in special-education or resource rooms for two 72-minute periods per day, they would not meet the state standard in this category.

Because the district has fewer than than 30 graduating seniors with special needs every year, there is not much data for high-school aged students.

Spohn said surveys have been done to see how disabled students are functioning after graduation. About 85 percent of the alumni returned surveys.

It found 100 percent of those who responded were either working or had gone to a two- or four-year college. Spohn said this was good news because the goal of the special education department is to get students ready for life outside the classroom.

The district also is making progress with preschool special education students, she said.

Spohn said the five students who entered school in 2006-07 all moved on to kindergarten, and all five students made progress last year.

Spohn said she is awaiting the results of a recent survey on parental involvement in special-needs students' education.

The study is to determine how parental involvement affects students' school performance.

Spohn said a good percentage of parents returned the study because they could fill out the paper sent home with their child, fill out the form online or come in and do the study while their child was being supervised.

"I've spoken with other districts who said a lot of parents didn't do the survey," Spohn said. "I'm anxious to see what happened with the report."

Board of Education Vice President Carole DeBonte said this was the first time the state did not call on the district to step up its efforts because the district met, exceeded or made significant progress on all aspects of the study.

"It's nice to see an explanation of where we sit," said board member Tim Wendell.

Kerry McAvoy covers Montgomery County news and can be reached at



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