Transition program to assist special needs students

Jonathan Wright - [email protected]

VANCEBURG — Special needs students will soon have an opportunity to gain work experience after a recent decision by the Lewis County Board of Education.

Paula Lewis, director of Special Education and Pre School Services spoke to the Lewis County Board of Education Monday evening regarding the implementation of a Community Work Transition Program into the school district which will help special needs students gather real work experience in the hopes of finding employment after graduation.

“The program has been around for years and years, and you’ve probably actually heard of the program,” Lewis said to the board. “What it is: an individual works with students, they’re usually special needs students in this case.”

Lewis said the reason for the board’s approval of the program is because special needs students who must log work experience in order to graduate, on top of taking alternate assessments.

“There’s nine students who are on what’s called ‘alternate assessment,’ and those students, and I’m talking about our functional students — students in our FMD classes, have to also be college and career ready,” she said. “So you’re talking about students who have an IQ of 55 and below.”

With this program, special needs students will go out with an ‘employment specialist,’ in order to gain and record real-world work experience. According to Lewis, each student will need to have 20 hours of work experience logged.

“(The employment specialist) will work with them, they will actually take them out, get these things set up for the student, they’ll do individual job coaching with the student and they will also try to help the student transition out of Lewis County High School and into the workforce.”

After Lewis’ explanation of the Community Work Transition Program, the board approved the program’s implementation. Alongside the program’s approval, the board also agreed to advertise for the employment specialist.

In other business:

— Board Member Cindy Applegate was appointed to the Local Planning Committee as a representative.

— The board approved the purchase of seven school buses through a leasing program. Among the buses, six will be used for the general student body, and one will be used for special needs students. The total cost for the buses is around $751,520.

Jonathan Wright

[email protected]