Today, more than ever before, there are many forces affecting the landscape of special education. The most powerful force is the tightening of school budgets. In today’s environment special education programs need to be resourceful and creative in order to be successful. To that end, the people here at The Conover Company have noticed several trends this fall among some of the school districts we work with.
Bring ‘Em Back
First of all, school districts all over the nation are looking for ways to increase their operating budgets. One very obvious way to do this is to bring your 18 to 22-year-old students back to your district. One district we are currently working with explained that in the past, they sent out 30 special needs students to a service provider at a cost of $25,000.00 per year, per student. Some quick math proves that keeping these students in the district would save hundreds of thousands of dollars!
30 x $25,000.00 = $750,000.00. Using existing staff, the district can save close to $500,000.00 by simply bringing them back to the district.
Improving Quality and Program Accountability
We recently did a webinar with a district that was in the process of creating a new program for special needs students who fall within the age range of 18 to 22 years old. The administrator stated that there were several additional reasons for bringing these students back to the district besides the obvious monetary reasons. For example, these students can now learn work and life skills in their own community; the community that they will most likely live in the rest of their lives. Another reason she explained was, “quite frankly we think we can do a better job of educating them and at the same time be more accountable for preparing them for the challenges that lie ahead for them.”
A Technology Solution
For over 30 years The Conover Company has been quietly researching and developing tools to assist in that effort. Our Transition Planning System (TPS) is an age-appropriate and population-appropriate transition assessment system. Our software includes the latest advances in assistive technology to ensure program success. The byproduct of the TPS System is a career portfolio. Our Functional Skills System software and iPod/iPad apps assess, teach, and post assess functional skills that include: life, social, literacy, work, math, transportation, safety and health skills.
The Functional Planning and Functional Communication Systems
Once skills are learned, our new Functional Planning System (a visual planning application that uses video modeling) and Functional Communication System (a video-based communication tool) can be used to take these newly acquired skills out of the classroom into everyday life.
Both of these new apps are customizable and video-based, making it easy to customize training to their world – the world they will live in.
Another feature we are extremely proud of is that our Functional Skills System software has been reprogrammed in HTML 5. So what’s the big deal? Well for starters, this allows you to continue using The Functional Skills System on your mobile devices, such as the iPad and iPod touch, as well as Mac and Windows computers.
School districts are learning quickly that when funding is on the line, they have to adapt quickly or face the unfortunate consequences. The Conover Company has made it easier for school districts to get creative and deal with whatever obstacles, monetary or otherwise, are thrown at them. When your district is ready to launch your new program for students in the 18-22 year age range, be sure to utilize our new technology tools for maximum quality and accountability within the program.
Want more information? Contact us today for a free webinar.