CARLSBAD — Savings and maximizing resources are just two reasons for a potential consolidation of the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education’s schools in Carlsbad.
The Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees heard a proposal by district staff and NCCSE during its Jan. 22 meeting to educate all special needs students at North County Academy. The potential move would include transitioning the elementary program from Buena Vista Elementary School to NCA to address financial concerns and streamline educational programming, said NCCSE Executive Director Theresa Kurtz.
“In bringing the two elementary classes to the main campus, there is the opportunity to create a more appropriate and equitable school community for the elementary students and eliminate significant duplication of services currently provided,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent Chris Wright said staff presented the board with the idea, along with 10-year lease option. He said NCCSE, a division of the San Diego County Office of Education, will fund $2.3 million in upgrades to the NCA.
The proposed upgrades include placing three relocatable classrooms at NCA for the K-5 students, constructing a playground and shade shelter and improvements regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since North Coastal Consortium for Special Education will cover those costs, they are requesting a long-term lease to maximize the investment, Wright said. District staff will return to the board in February to outline a lease, where the board will discuss and include any changes.
“At the next board meeting, we will give a short presentation on what lease would look like,” he said. “If there is interest from there, we will write the lease and bring back in March or April.”
Kurtz said the consolidation will lead to an estimated savings of $350,000 per year.
As for the NCA, it is a public school managed by NCCSE and serves students from the NCCSE Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA) member districts and from districts and charter schools outside of NCCSE. NCCSE covers school districts from Fallbrook and Vallecitos to Del Mar Union.
The school serves children and youth with significant social-emotional and behavioral needs that cannot be supported in less restrictive settings in their districts, Kurtz said.
Tim Evanson, CUSD’s director of pupil services, said NCCSE provides critical support and resources to the district to aid special needs students with severe mental health issues. The program is designed to take students on board and push them forward with the goal of re-integrating those students back to the original schools.
“They offer programs for the more severe kids that need the day treatment combined with the mental health support,” Evanson said. “Carlsbad and others can put their kids in there to meet their educational needs. It’s more of the intense mental health treatment. So, they offer the academics with the mental health approach.”
In addition, Kurtz said NCCSE also offers therapy for students and families, small class sizes and much more.
“Students benefit from a smaller school campus with low student to staff ratio and integrated therapeutic supports embedded in the program,” she added. “Students also continue with the academic and curricular requirements that align with their home schools so they are able to successfully integrate back to their schools of residence as soon as possible.”