Education board approves new course and adult transition program

The Wilton Board of Education approved a new course for Wilton High School called Virtual High School and a new transition program for 18- to 21-year-old students with complex needs during its April 6 meeting.

Virtual High School

The Virtual High School course, proposed by Wilton High School Associate Principal Donald Schels and presented to the board during its March 9 meeting, aligns with the district’s initiative to personalize learning and utilize blended learning platforms to create virtual learning experiences for students.

Virtual High School is a nonprofit entity that provides rigorous online instruction delivered by certified teachers that allows students to engage with coursework at times most convenient to them.

The course would require 0.2 FTE (full-time equivalent) staff, serve up to 50 students, and cost the district around $9,212.

Click here to learn more about the course.

Community Steps

The new transition program for 18- to 21-year-olds called Community Steps would not only “increase the quality of service” to the district’s 18- to 21-year-old age group, said Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly, but “also do so more cost-effectively.”

According to Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Ann Paul, Wilton High School special education teacher Melissa Barrett, parent Fran Monro, and Wilton High School Assistant Principal Amy Korn, who presented the proposed program at the board’s March 9 meeting, Community Steps would save the district an estimated $32,520 next year.

The focus of the program is “to support the students as they define and pursue their life skills with a heavy concentration on living and vocational skills that are really embedded in the community,” Paul told the board in March.

“The IDEA special education law requires that we provide supports and services with a focus on transition and vocational services for a small number of our students age 18 to 21, who have very significant and complex needs,” she said.

In the past, Paul said, these students have been in outplacement schools “because we have not had community-based programs.”

Out-of-district placement for 18- to 21-year-olds with complex learning needs is “quite costly,” Paul said, and the new plan is “not only better for the students and the families, but it’s actually cost-effective, too.”

The out-of-district placement costs for four currently out-placed students would be around $393,520 next year, said Paul, but with the Community Steps program, the cost would drop to $361,000 — covering staff, materials, and transportation.

Click here to learn more about Community Steps.