JAY — Regional School Unit 73 board of directors were told at their meeting on Feb. 15 a change in Power School is being explored so mainstream teachers have access to accommodation information.

“One of the biggest pieces of special education and 504 are accommodations,” Jenna Cote, special education assistant director/504 coordinator, said. “Based on the kid’s disability they might need extra time testing, someone to read to them. It could be a variety of accommodations. It is our job as special education teachers to get those accommodations out to the mainstream teachers.”

There are about 443 students in the district requiring accommodations, Cote, who wasn’t sure of current numbers, said. That doesn’t count the health plan, is a huge portion of the district, she noted.

“That is a lot for the mainstream teachers, administrators, everyone to keep track of,” Cote said. Over the years changes have been made for how accommodations are shared, she stated.

“Right now we are trying to work with Power School [a software program used by the district for teachers and parents to share information] but it is still a pretty clunky system,” Cote said. “Staff has to click through multiple different options to get to accommodations.”

Administrators have access to accommodations through Power School but mainstream teachers don’t, Cote said. She hopes to add options to Power School so that clicking an icon will allow a student’s accommodations to pop up. “Health plans, behavior plans are so important and it’s important that we follow those plans,” she said. “I think this is going to be one of those things that if we can make it happen, it will make every one’s life easier.”


Cote said it might cost the district some money but will be well worth it in the end. “Our students deserve to have us follow their accommodations,” she noted. “It is necessary.”

Cote said she would volunteer to be the guinea pig, talk with other school districts about how wonderful the changes are once implemented.

“The icon is there,” Cherie Parker, special services director noted. “When you click on it the box pops up for the 504 plan. There is no accommodations in the box.”

Laura White, administrative assistant to Superintendent Scott Albert said when she worked at Mt. Abram High School Power School was used and the icon for accommodations worked, was great.

“It is so important that the teachers have access to this information and in an easier way because their jobs are hard enough as it is,” Director Phoebe Pike of Livermore Falls said. “Then adding on top of that we have some of the most vulnerable people in our community that need these services as well as the information available to those who can provide assistance.”

A lot of people don’t talk about the sheer numbers of students requiring accommodations, Pike noted. In her experience, many people getting diagnosed as needing accommodations still find it to be shameful. Some people use a cane to walk, so why get upset if accommodations are needed to be a better student, she stated.


“I think a program being added to make it easier is only going to help spread the awareness as well as make things a lot easier so the frustration isn’t there,” Pike added.

Not all disabilities can be seen, Cote emphasized. Knowing when students have anxiety or other issues can guide how and what a teacher asks of them in the classroom, she said. “Kids can have anywhere from three to 15 accommodations,” she noted. “Imagine. There are at least eight to 10 students in every classroom with accommodations.”

Trying to balance these things, get all the information and specifics, some teachers do really well – others not so well, Elaine Fitzgerald said. She is a director, former educator and grandmother to a student at the middle school who has an IEP [individual education plan]. Kids need to have their own input, be proactive, she noted. Improving Power School will allow teachers to feel more effective and kids to feel they are being successful, she added.

When asked, Cote said she had no idea how much the district might need to spend. The district has been working on this issue for five years, she noted.

“The IEP should be showing up, doesn’t,” Chris Hollingsworth, curriculum and technology director said when asked if Power School had been asked about the issue. The 504 piece is separate, the first step is to get the IEP window fixed, he noted.

“Over the last five years we have had so many changes in technology,” Cote said. “I can’t help think that because of those changes it has slowed the process. We are definitely in that space where we are ready to fight for it and see it all the way through and get those answers.”

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