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Officials briefed by new director of student support

Ryan Collins, the new director of student support services for the Gloversville Enlarged School District, briefed the Board of Education on office activities during the Sept. 9 meeting. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The new director of student support services for the Gloversville Enlarged School District briefed the Board of Education on office activities during the first meeting of the school year.

“It’s still relatively early in my tenure here at Gloversville, but I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to give an update on the office of student support services,” Director of Student Support Services Ryan Collins explained during the Sept. 9 school board meeting.

Collins said that work in the office of student support services over the summer focused on preparing for the 2019-20 school year, as well as ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities as the office welcomed three new staff members.

“That has been our primary focus to be perfectly honest with you from mid-July to make sure that we were able to close out the prior school year, get everything set up, work with our building administration and work with our teachers to make sure everyone was set up for a successful beginning of the school year,” Collins said. “It was truly a collaborative effort.”

In addition to Collins, ahead of the current school year Nicole Morton joined the office to fill the school district’s new assistant director of student support services position and Tedra Kluska filled a vacant secretary position.

With the school year officially underway, Collins said student support services staff members have begun to engage in discussions about how best to meet the needs of students and how to identify possible solutions to quickly meet any challenges.

“Personally I’ve invested as much time as I can learning about our programs, about our students, about the staff that work with our students and really just having as many conversations as I can with parents,” Collins said. “I think the most important thing in my position is to try to learn as much as I possibly can as quickly as I can so that we are prepared to meet the needs of our students across the district.”

This approach will inform an update to the school district’s special education plan that Collins has proposed undertaking in October or November.

“It will lay out all of the information about the students that we serve, the number of students that we serve, how we allocate our resources to meet the needs across the district and I think the most important thing is to discuss our continuing services,” Collins said.

“That will break down how we set up from the time a student enters our [Committee on Preschool Special Education] process and goes all the way through 12th grade and what services, what programs we can have available for those students,” he added.

Collins said the process will include an in depth discussion with the school board about the services the district provides and goals for continuing and future services. He noted that typically when a district updates its special education plan, the school board will put a two year plan in place while the district develops a full five year plan informed with data gathered over the course of the preceding five year plan.

Additionally, Collins informed the board that in accordance with annual reporting procedures under the state Education Department the district will be required this school year to gather feedback on student support services by surveying a set percentage of parents of the approximately 650 students receiving special education services in the district.

“They will assign us a percentage of surveys that we have to send out to our parents and we can get them in a couple different ways, they can be done through a paper format or online, but we have to collect those results and it’s typically falls somewhere in the 70 percent range,” Collins said.

Collins said the department will likely focus on gathering survey responses in the spring during the annual review process with results of the survey likely returned to the district by the state in the fall.

“That is a mandatory thing we do for the district, but whether it was mandatory or not I think it’s a good opportunity for us as a district to see how our parents feel about the services that we’re providing,” Collins said. “Hopefully next fall we’ll be able to speak to how our parents feel we’re doing as a district and also have the time to analyze that and address areas of concern.”

Following the briefing, GESD Superintendent David Halloran offered his support for the direction of the office of student support services moving forward.

“I think the department’s in good hands. I have great expectations and hopes for the students they serve,” Halloran said.

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