By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees heard a presentation from Emily Wilson, the director of special education for the Tyler County Special Education Cooperative.
The co-op program services all five of the county’s school districts, and their needs for students who are eligible to receive special education services due to a disability.
Wilson said that since 2014, the co-op had 364 students, and is presently at 564 with the last snapshot.
Wilson said the co-op has made some adjustments this year with regard to how the Texas Education Agency has changed how it monitors results-based accountability.
“We’re pushing our kids out more into general education,” Wilson said, which has put many of the students into their home districts.
Wilson said another challenge faced by the co-op is a shortage of special education teachers.
WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said that administration is looking at potentially pulling out of the co-op and providing its own services.
Meysembourg said that other districts contribute financially, but the co-op program is housed in WISD facilities, and is responsible for all of the staffing, which takes a lot of the district’s resources.
“Every month it seems we have a change in para-professionals in our special ed program,” Meysembourg said. “Keeping those students staffed with varying degrees of disabilities is very difficult,” she added.
In light of the resource issues, as well as growth in the program, Meysembourg said that she, Wilson and WISD assistance superintendent/head of finance Cody Jarrott have determined it would be best to provide services to WISD students instead of serving the whole county. The growth of the program, she said has been “massive.”
“It is a hardship on our district to continue to do that, but we want to make sure that everyone still has those services,” she said.
Meysembourg said that in July, the board will be asked to make a decision as to whether or not WISD should stay in the co-op or pull out.