Center Grove schools withdrawing from Special Services programs

Starting in summer 2017, Center Grove schools will hire about 30 special education teachers, assistants and physical therapists.

The school district will withdraw from the Special Services of Johnson County and Surrounding Schools cooperative, which provides teachers and programs for special needs students, after the 2016-17 school year. Center Grove is currently the largest school district in the cooperative, with about 1,000 students getting services through the organization.

Center Grove officials wanted to provide their own program because more than 14 percent of their students get services from the cooperative. This week, school board members unanimously approved ending their agreement with Special Services.

By leaving the organization, Center Grove will hire its own teachers, therapists and behavioral coaches and provide programs and classes that help students with academic and behavioral goals. The school district will begin providing its own services in the 2017-18 school year.

Two behavioral intervention specialists who currently work at Center Grove schools but are employees of Special Services will be hired by the Center Grove school district, Special Services executive director Angie Balsley said.

Center Grove officials still are deciding exactly how many positions need to be added and what programs will be created once they end their contract with Special Services, Superintendent Richard Arkanoff said.

Special Services also is reassessing what programs should be offered after its two largest school districts that received services decided to end their agreement.

In 2014, Clark-Pleasant school officials decided to leave the cooperative so they could provide the programming for their 832 special needs students. Last summer, the school district had to hire about 20 special education teachers, behavioral coaches and therapists. Previously, Clark-Pleasant was paying approximately $1.7 million to Special Services annually.

Franklin school officials also plan to review their agreement with Special Services, officials said.