FARMINGTON — John Jones, director of special services for Regional School Unit 9, reported to the Board of Directors that the department had completed their monitoring cycle with the Maine Department of Education and had been found to be in compliance with all the necessary guidelines for the program.

The monitoring cycle is performed every four years, according to Jones, and is done to ensure the special services program is following the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“That’s been a guiding document for services for students with disabilities ever since [it’s implementation in 1977].” He stated. “It’s been amended here and there throughout the years and then generally improved.”

With the review completed, Jones and his team can move into the 2023-2024 school year with one less thing on their minds as they prepare for the upcoming school year. Director Rich Ruhlin of Industry asked if the program was anticipating a high amount of transfers for the upcoming school year.

“Always,” Jones responded.

“In the past several years, we’ve had a number of students that transfer in between mid-August right through October,” he continued. Jones added that of the number of student that transferred in last year, roughly a third of that group accounted for their students with the highest level of needs such as adaptive skill programming.


According to Jones’ report, 63 students had transferred into the district, 81 students were referred to the office by parents, teachers or others for the presence of a disability requiring special education services, and over 900 IEP team meetings were held during the 22-23 school year.

Jones reported to the board last October that the program had been met with challenges in the wake of COVID-19, but has seen significant improvement in staffing with several new hires coming in since February, and they include an experienced adaptive skills teacher hired in January, and a resource room teacher that will be starting in the fall at Mt. Blue High School.

The program will also have an experienced Speech and Language Pathologist that will also be starting in the fall for the district.

The program is still currently searching for more staff, with a need for an another adaptive skills teacher and day treatment teacher for MBHS and 12 education technicians for K through 12 [four for K-2, eight districtwide]

Jones also reported on the success of the Unified Sports Program that was implemented last year and will continue in the next school year.

“It’s hard quite honestly to put into words how incredibly meaningful that experience was for the kids and the families that participated,” Jones said. “It was just phenomenal.”

Ruhlin, who was also in attendance for one of the games, spoke highly of the event.

“Holy smokes,” he stated. “You’ve got to go. If you want to talk about student athleticism, from the perspective of everyone engaged and true team camaraderie, that gym was the most positive place I can imagine.”

Comments are not available on this story.