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Program to Move to Wayside

Students with multiple disabilities will have the chance to be educated with their neighbors.

As part of a general shift of programs typical in county schools, the School/Community Based Program (SCBP) is being moved from Beall Elementary School in Rockville to Wayside Elementary.

“Every year there are some programs that change,” said Joe Lavorgna, director of Planning and Capital Programming for Montgomery County Public Schools.

“I think it will be a good program for Wayside,” said Principal Suzette Chagnon.

Along with the program come two new portable classrooms (trailers).

“The program takes up two classrooms, so two portables are being added,” said Lavorgna.

Wayside will now have four trailers, up from two. “I think that portables are a way of life in Montgomery County Public Schools, and, in fact, in any area that’s growing,” Chagnon said.

Typically, special needs classes are kept within the school building, so it is likely that two mainstream classes will be shifted to the trailers. Administration has yet to determine which classes will be shifted to the trailers. “We’re still working on it,” Chagnon said.

The SCBP is for students with multiple disabilities, typically both physical and mental according to Pat O’Neill, president of the Board of Education.

“Every other Elementary School in the Churchill Cluster has some other special program,” Lavorgna said.

“The idea is that no one school is overly impacted,” O’Neill said.

According to Lavorgna, six students will be moved to Wayside. Two are actually from within the Wayside boundary area, two from Bells Mill and two from the Wootton cluster. “When we create new classes, we try to bring them closer to their home,” Lavorgna said.

“The kids do deserve to be in a program with other kids from their neighborhood,” Chagnon said.

Chagnon says that the classes will be split into two age groups, one for K-2, and the other 3-5. Each class will have one full-time teacher and two aides assigned.

After assessing each individual student, some of them may be able to be placed in mainstream classes for part of the school day.

“We need to see where they can be mainstreamed,” Chagnon said. She gave examples of gym, music, and lunch as possible times for mainstreaming.

Additionally some students may be able to be placed in some of the more academic classes. “There may be some kids that can,” Chagnon said.

“They’ll be part of the school community.”

Chagnon believes that having the students at Wayside will enable the mainstream students to better understand students with special needs. She says that her experience is that students at Wayside have been generally open-minded. “It will be an easy leap for the kids,” Chagnon said.