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Seaworth is re-elected as DL school board chair

The leadership of the Detroit Lakes School Board will remain unchanged for 2007. Board members re-elected Dr. Tom Seaworth as board chairman at Mon-day night's meeting.

Seaworth was re-elected by unanimous ballot. Also re-elected to their positions were LuAnn Porter, vice chair; Deanna Sinclair, secretary; and Tom Klyve, treasurer.

In other business, Acting Superintendent Lowell Niklaus reported that enrollment numbers continue to hold steady.

"Our enrollment numbers are holding better (i.e, more stable) than they have been in some time," Niklaus said.

The total first day enrollment of 2,664 has only decreased slightly through the end of December, to 2,655.

"It's a good sign," Niklaus added.

Niklaus also informed the board that the Dec. 12 school day that was missed due to inclement weather will be made up on Thursday, May 24, which should not disrupt planned activities for the last week of school.

Marcy Matson, special education director for the Detroit Lakes School District, gave a detailed report on staffing, funding and services offered by the district's special education.

Matson noted that much of the current programming currently offered under the special education program are dictated by state and federal law.

Under current law, special education services begin at birth. Each child eligible for special education services must undergo a detailed evaluation to determine the type and scope of services needed.

In addition, an individualized education plan, or IEP, must be prepared annually, and a complete re-evaluation must be done once every three years. Each district is monitored by the state to make sure these evaluations and IEPs are completed, accurately and on time, Matson added.

The district's special education program currently serves 508 resident (i.e., living in the district) and 67 non-resident students, for a total of 575.

This number has risen sharply since 2000, when a total of 499 students received special education services (463 resident and 36 non-resident students).

These students are served by a staff of 42 full and part-time instructors, four adaptive physical education specialists, two school psychologists, two occupational therapists, two certified therapist assistants, and 70 paraprofessionals.

While 70 may seem like a lot, Matson said, current law dictates that each paraprofessional can work no more than 5.9 hours per day.

Some of the challenges faced by the special education program include a growing need for preschool services, an increase in the severity of disabilities measured in students, and a sharp increase in caseload numbers.

"The Detroit Lakes School District can be proud of its special education staff and the services they provide," Matson concluded.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454