Van Fletcher: Need long-term analysis

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In 1967, Don Sanders was working for the Colorado Department of Education. While talking to superintendents in Northwest Colorado, the lack of special education was evident. There was no special education for students. The superintendents saw the need to provide special services and cooperated to better serve all students.

George P. Sauer, the superintendent of Steamboat Springs School District, was the most influential of the group since Steamboat Springs was the larger district. Craig chose not to participate in the program.

Initially, the special education program was a Title III project funded by the federal government from grant money. It was called the Child Study Center. The center first was located in the building where Stewart Title Company exists today. Sauer agreed to provide office space in the old junior high school for the Child Study Center personnel once the new junior high school was built and the old building was vacant.

I was hired as the first school psychologist in 1968. I wrote a program we called “Learning Analysis,” which helped fund the program. The theme of the program was to provide special education services within the regular classroom. Later, as the participating school districts (Steamboat, Hayden, South Routt, North Park, Walden, East and West Grand) began the assume more financial support of the program, the name of the special education program became known as the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

When I read that Superintendent Brad Meeks was advocating to withdraw from BOCES, I wondered, “Why?” (Aug. 2, Steamboat Pilot). What I read was Meeks thinks he can save $125,000, be more efficient and the Steamboat district would have more “control.” I think if the district withdraws from BOCES, it will be financially impossible for the remaining school districts to continue special education services. These suggestions seem to suggest knowledge of special education and cooperative effort is lacking.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today editorial Sept. 4 was, in my opinion, quite accurate. The program has served the area schools well during the past 18 years. I doubt hiring school psychologists, speech therapists, audiologists, physical therapists, language teachers, resource teachers and/or occupational therapists by each school district is a viable alternative.

I would like to see how money can be saved. I think a careful long-term analysis needs to be considered before withdrawing from BOCES.

BOCES is a crucial part of providing an education for everyone within all the school districts. There have been few complaints. The idea that we can save money locally at the expense of surrounding school districts seems absurd. Please keep in mind we are here to serve the students. And not every student learns in the same way. The administration and district should be concerned about education of students, not simply costs and control.

Van Fletcher

Steamboat Springs

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