D843 Lays out Welcome Mat for Sudents Beyond Its Boundaries
Lincoln-Way Area Special Education is looking to attract more students.
Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District 843 is working to broaden its boundaries to welcome students from nearby districts, including Orland Park, Tinley Park and Homer Glen.
Like every other public school district in the state, LWASE is hurting for money. And eventually drawing more students into a tuition-based program makes sense, said Sally Bintz, director of LWASE District 843. As long as there's enough room, it makes more sense to keep a classroom full from a personnel stand point.
If regular education districts don't have immediate access to the likes of LWASE or they can't service some individuals within their own systems, they contract with private agencies. LWASE can very well be the best solution for some of those students.
Already, the district has laid out the welcome mat for those in surrounding private placement agencies whose families might prefer they go to school closer to home, said Bintz.
"Here, we're close and the children can participate in the schools. They're able to forge relationships in their home communities." A number of the schools in this cooperative have a space for special needs students. Those kids can join the regular education students for special programs and lunch. Sometimes LWASE students are in the same classrooms.
By June 2014 there will be more spaces available because New Lenox School District 122 will have completed its pull-out from the program to shape its own special education cooperative. Their decision to separate from LWASE is not a negative reflection on the programs here, she noted.
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"It's not unusual for a district the size of New Lenox to make the decision to centralize the services within their district." And NLSD122 has emphasized that it would still be relying on D843 even after it separates for the services it can't provide.
The pull-out is not expected to affect the integrity of LWASE. Because it's a tuition-based program, only the administrative costs associated with those students will be lost. "That's not that much," she added.
However, the remaining feeder districts, Summit Hill District 161, Frankfort District 157-C, Manhattan D114, Mokena D159 and Lincoln-Way High School D210, are not in the same position. They don't have the numbers or the desire to form an independent cooperative.
LWASE was formed in the mid-to-late 70s for that very purpose—to provide for the needs of the population that requires special education services within the 105-square miles of the LWHS D210 district.
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