$2.50 a month for new Wheaton school
As a retired speech pathologist at the Jefferson Early Childhood Center in Wheaton, I do understand the need for a new building. As a district taxpayer, I am happy to pay for the small increase needed. Let me give you some first hand reasons why:
A top goal for each child is to build independence. It is difficult to achieve this goal when the bathrooms are too small for wheelchairs and walkers. The sinks and toilets are too tall for the students to use without stools.
There is a need for separate integrated space for therapies. Now, children are receiving physical and occupational therapy in the hallways and speech pathologists are often seen sitting on the floor in the hallway with a child.
Storage space does not exist, so equipment such as walkers, standers and wheelchairs are stored in the hall. Storage closets have been converted to work space for children, but are often non-ventilated and quite small.
There are currently 12 classrooms filled with children with special needs as well as typically developing children. There are additional sites at Johnson (two rooms) and one at Madison, and it would be more efficient to have all under one roof. Since the state mandates early education for children with special needs and the emphasis being placed on early childhood these programs continue to grow.
The typically developing classrooms are self-sustaining, in that the parents pay tuition for their child. There is always a waiting list for these classrooms.
Given early intervention, 90 to 95 percent of the children at Jefferson can go on to kindergarten with their neighborhood peers, with added support as needed.
The new building would only cost the average taxpayer $2.50 per month for 10 years. That is a real value for such a great need.