Special Needs educators and administrators presented a plan to reorganize the Special Education department to the school committee this week.
The committee unanimously voted to support the plan which involves hiring 14 more staff members to evaluate and meet the highly-complicated and individualized needs of special education students.
According to Assistant Superintendent Richard Gallucci, who oversees special education, 18 percent of Revere’s student population, or 1,476 students are in special education programs. The district hopes to hire an administrator, special education coordinators, teacher coaches and school psychologists to help evaluate and better meet the learning needs of students.
The plan to reorganize special education is part of a natural progression that began with a surge of support and resources for English learners last year. School officials now hope to shift that effort to special education.
Many of the ideas that went into the redesign of the program emerged during three community meetings with educators, parents, service providers and others invested in the program. Teachers who helped present the plan repeatedly stressed that parents were grateful for what they described as the wonderful and amazing work the district’s special education teachers were doing with their children. They did say they would like to see more community-based opportunities for their children and some professional development for general education teachers.
The reorganization would begin with an administrator who would work under Gallucci to oversee the program.
“We need a special education champion to move our practice forward,” said Gallucci.
There has been a rush of studies that describe the learning loss students suffered during the pandemic. That loss had an even greater impact on special education students. The plan to reorganize special education involves layering in adequate support that teachers need to best assist students.
Educators feel the need to increase the number of special education coordinators to work with teachers in every school. Currently, schools share team leaders who are focused on testing and meeting with families which leaves little time for them to be involved in actual instruction.
Gallucci said one of the reasons behind Revere’s academic success is teaching coaches that help educators fine tune their instruction to better help students. But that type of support currently doesn’t exist in special education.
The plan also calls for five new psychologists who will help identify where a child is struggling and put resources in place to best help them succeed.
Superintendent Diane Kelly said the reorganization would cost about $1 million and the school department is in a position to fund the plan. The hope is to launch the newly designed special education program next September to best help the district’s most vulnerable learners.