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School board OKs SPED director, classroom addition

Friday, February 19, 2010

McCook Elementary's two new classrooms will be tucked into a corner north of the gym and west of the kitchen/hallway, out the blue door, center. The project to add the new classrooms will also include restroom renovation and new flooring in the existing preschool classroom.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCook Public School board of education members approved a contract for the new special education director and plans for a classroom addition at McCook Elementary during a special board meeting at noon Friday.

John Hanson of Elba will split his time as SPED director 60/40 between McCook Public Schools and Educational Service Unit No. 15, Trenton, when he starts with the 2010-2011 school year.

Hanson was one of three candidates interviewed by MPS Superintendent Grant Norgaard and ESU Director Paul Calvert, and by MPS and ESU staff. "We had solid candidates," Norgaard told board members, "but one stood out."

Hanson returned a signed contract, Norgaard said.

The split contract with the ESU will be a one-year contract, Norgaard said, because at some time, MPS may need its own full-time SPED director.

Hanson is the K-12 principal at Elba Public Schools, a position he has held since August 2008. For three years before that, he was a K-6 special education teacher at Cuyuna Rang Elementary School, Crosby-Ironton Public Schools, Crosby, Minn.

His undergraduate major is special education K-12 LD; his graduate major is educational administration and leadership.

Bids on McCook Elementary's two new classrooms and a renovated preschool classroom will be opened in the junior high conference room on Tuesday, March 16.

Ideally, the classroom addition would be completed before class starts in the fall, although architect Dave Wilson said to plan realistically on about six months. "Weather is the biggest factor," Wilson said. "But I have no control over it, so I try not to stress about it ... just forge ahead."

The plans have been reviewed by the City of McCook's building inspector and the state fire marshall, who noted no issues with the plans, Wilson said.

The exterior of the addition will match the brick, doors and windows of the 4 1/2-year-old addition to the original North Ward Elementary. "It will be a nice continuation of the McCook Elementary building," Wilson said. It will be heated and cooled with its own HVAC system and will have the same intercom, security keypad entry system, fire detection system, alarm system and automatic fire extinguishing system as the existing building.

The staff parking lot on the north of the existing building will be used for drop-off and pick-up of children, in cars and on buses.

Wilson said he will prepare specs for the bid-letting. "We have several local contractors very well-suited to a project like this," he said, and some have indicated interest already.

The building project will be funded with $366,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus money awarded to MPS and earmarked specifically for special education.

An additional $14,000 in stimulus funding earmarked for preschool programs will be used to bring the existing preschool classroom into compliance with ADA regulations, updating a restroom in the classroom that is the original North Ward kindergarten at the south end of the main north-south hallway.

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I don't mean to sound mean spirited, but special eds children shouldn't be mainstreamed. It takes time away from the students who are able to meet the requirements, and it bores the children who can excell to no end. They have to wait for the teacher to get done helping the challenged student.

I also feel that students who are capable of doing work in the next higher grade should be placed there. It would provide them with a challenge they may not be getting at the grade level they're in. No Child Left Behind is as big a myth as the Free Lunch.

-- Posted by old grouch on Sat, Feb 20, 2010, at 5:24 AM

I will agree with you on one point, No Child Left Behind is a farce. But what you term "special eds children" aren't necessarily what you think.

Some children in those programs just have a different way of learning and once those are identified, and given learning plans, those kids excel and do very well. These children can be mainstreamed with the only ones knowing are the teachers and parents. Don't hold back kids that can do the work with just some modifications of how they are taught.

-- Posted by susanne_1989 on Mon, Feb 22, 2010, at 9:00 PM

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