District collecting information about student support services

Nanaimo school district wants to know what parents think about the support and services available for special needs students.

Nanaimo school district wants to know what parents think about the support and services available for special needs students.

The district is collecting feedback on its school-based and district-level student support services programs through an online survey at www.sd68.bc.ca.

“It’s just a way to check in with parents to see how they’re feeling about student support services,” said Donna Reimer, district spokeswoman. “The survey is the best way to get a broad perspective from lots of parents.”

Student support services includes programs for students with: physical, intellectual or learning disabilities; chronic health, visual, and hearing impairments; and autism. It also includes programs for gifted students and those requiring behavioural interventions or with mental illnesses.

The survey includes questions about technology use in classrooms, how the services could be improved within the existing budget and current strengths of the programs. It also includes a section specifically for parents of children with Ministry of Education special needs designations.

The information will be used to help develop a strategic plan for the district, of which improving service delivery for special needs students is one important component, Reimer said.

“The strategic plan is going to address all of our education service delivery models,” she said.

The survey is not a specific reaction to the provincial audit last spring that resulted in the district losing more than $500,000 in funding for special needs students, but staff are expecting to hear from parents frustrated by the lower level of supports available, particularly education assistants, Reimer said.

“Definitely that’s one of the factors that needs to be taken into consideration,” she said.

The district has already received 180 responses. The survey is available until Jan. 16.