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Rising need forces schedule change at charter school

Student count set to rise at Transitional Learning Center

Posted: May 27, 2009 9:21 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A decision to create a split schedule at Transitional Learning Charter for the 2009-10 school year has left the parent of a special-needs student concerned that her son’s classroom time will be reduced.

The decision to create the split schedule comes as the school, which teaches special-needs adults ages 18 and over life skills, has seen a significant increase in the number of students.

Instructional time is generally split between the classroom and the community, where students learn everyday responsibilities.

Transitional Learning Charter, part of the William S. Hart Union High School District, currently has about 90 students, said Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett. The number of additional applicants for the fall semester is at 45 so far, making for a “large increase,” she said.

“They will split it into two shifts so that they can accommodate everyone,” Willett said.

Without going to the split schedule, the district would have turned to a lottery system to determine which of the 45 applicants would get into the school, said Marty Lieberman, director of special education.

The school’s current schedule, which runs from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., would be broken down into two shifts — one from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and another session from 11:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Families would be able to choose whether they want their student in the morning or afternoon session.

But to Lise Parcells of Saugus, the scheduling change will reduce her son’s instructional minutes by 25 percent, she said.

“There’s no way they can make that up,” Parcells said.

Her son, who is diagnosed with autism, has been at Transitional Learning Charter for a year.

For Parcells, it’s not about the split shifts, but about the decrease in instructional minutes for her 20-year-old son.

“By not being in the classroom, it’s really going to impact his instructional day,” she said.

While the split schedule reduces the instructional time by 60 minutes, the decision gives students more opportunities to gain employment and take community college classes, said Marty Lieberman, director of special education.

“It gives them more opportunity to get out in the community and practice what they’re doing in the classroom,” Willett said.

The schedule change could be benefit students in another way.

“What we found was that the day was too long for many of the students,” Lieberman said.



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