State fully funds special needs classroom at Oakman Middle School

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/13/18

At the Walker County Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins informed board members that much needed funding for a special needs classroom at Oakman Middle School was awarded from the Alabama State Department of Education.

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State fully funds special needs classroom at Oakman Middle School

Posted

At the Walker County Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins informed board members that much needed funding for a special needs classroom at Oakman Middle School was awarded from the Alabama State Department of Education.

The BOE voted late last year to implement the PROPS (Positive Reinforcement Opportunities for Promising Students) program at Oakman Middle to create a self-contained classroom for students with unique behavioral needs. The board took a gamble on the $340,000 project, knowing money they hoped to receive from the state department of education to fund it was not promised; however, the board recently received the full amount they had already invested in the project from the state department of education.

The new program and classroom was already in use by students in December.

“We received every bit of that money from the state department of education. We didn’t have to pay the first penny of that. There is no matching money,” Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins said.

In October, Director of Student Services Butch Sargent explained to the board that the funds, if awarded, would pay for a full-time special needs teacher, additional paraprofessionals, a special needs bus and driver, a bus aide and sensory equipment for the classroom.

The classroom’s full-time teacher, Rachel Taylor, told the Daily Mountain Eagle in December that the special needs classroom serves 10 students, and the number will continue to grow, considering the PROPS program is open to students county-wide.

“The PROPS class is designed to use a variety of proven approaches and teaching methods to meet the varied and unique needs of students with behavior and/or social problems,” Adkins said in December. “The program and the classroom environment recognizes and develops the strengths of each student as problem behaviors are addressed.”

The $340,000 awarded was deemed as catastrophic funds that exist to help with unexpected and costly needs.

“It worked out really, really well. I know you all are glad to hear that, and I am too,” Adkins said.

In other business, the board:

•recognized that Chairman Brad Ingle and board member Todd Vick were absent from the meeting, due to health reasons. Until all board members can be present for a vote, the board tabled approving a health service procedures manual, financial procedures for local schools and an accounting and operations manual.

•approved a bid to renovate the front entrance of Lupton Jr. High School. Board members did not say who won the bid or the cost of the project.

•presented a plan to move forward with a gym floor project for Parrish Elementary that would cost roughly $60,000, Adkins said. Board member Lee Ann Headrick said she never saw the gym floor project in the board’s 5-year capital plan, and the vote to move forward with the project failed to pass.

The Eagle reported in September 2017 that Parrish’s gym floor was part of the capital plan.

Council member Bill Edd Gilbert said the current gym floor at the school is rubberized and has dips in it, and the proposed wood floor would eliminate any safety concerns. Adkins said he believes the school has never received a new gym floor.

•held a moment of silence for former Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Harvey Sanford, who passed away Dec. 29.