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Haring: Improving special ed services

PRINCETON — Princeton High School is considering establishing its own special education cooperative as a way to improve services to its students.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the PHS Board, Superintendent Kirk Haring said the new special education cooperative would also include the Princeton Elementary School District and possibly the Malden Grade School District, which feeds into the PHS District. Currently, PHS is one of 15 members of the Bureau-Marshall-Putnam Special Education Cooperative.

Haring said there have been some concerns with the BMP cooperative. At this point, he anticipates coming back to the board in the near future with a recommendation to form a new special education cooperative, he said.

If he does make that recommendation and if the recommendation is approved by the school board, PHS would still be a part of the BMP Special Education Cooperative for the coming school year, Haring said. Any new cooperative would go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.

On Thursday, Haring said the advantages to forming a new cooperative would be not only improved services for the students but also reduced costs, through hiring its own staff.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, Principal Andy Berlinski said 78 percent of the PHS students have taken the new Illinois 5Essentials Survey, which was released Feb. 1 by the Illinois State Board of Education. The entire student body will have the survey completed by early next week. The teaching staff has already completed the survey, he said.

The 5Essentials of the survey are effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment and an ambitious instruction. The results of the survey will be released in June and will be posted on the PHS School Report Card in October.

On Thursday, Berlinski said the survey results are being utilized by the Illinois State Board of Education in coordination with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The survey itself has had many forms during the past 20 years, but this is the first year for the survey to be administered by all schools in Illinois, including the first year for PHS to do the survey.

“This survey will be utilized to provide honest feedback to PHS administration and staff on what we are doing well and what we can improve upon,” Berlinski said. “The social/emotional aspect of the school environment will be assessed by the survey. It will be great to have real insight into the five essential areas. We already receive test scores for our junior students based on the PSAE in April. I see this as providing feedback on another aspect of PHS.”

Also at Wednesday’s board meeting, Haring said the Buildings and Grounds Committee has met with the Arcon Associates to finalize the construction plans for the summer, with the majority of the work to be paid from the issuance of $1.125 million in life safety bonds.

Those summer projects include new bleachers for the football field/track, roof replacement work on the Prouty and south gymnasiums, tuck pointing for the entire building, repair work to the greenhouse, and repair to the fire escape at the auditorium.

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