The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) met on April 17, 2012 at 7:00 – 9:00 pm.The topic for tonight’s meeting was “Assistive Technology: What It Is, Who is Eligible, How It Helps.” The discussion was led by LCPS Special Education Supervisor , Assistive Technology Mark Nichols.Here is a summary of the discussion (note that a copy of the presentation charts can be found at http://bit.ly/seacat12):• Assistive Technology (AT) may be applicable to any student with a disability (IEP or 504) across all phases of education.• AT involves “device” and “service.”• Device: any item…used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of students with disabilities.• AT devices range from very simple, low tech ones, such as highlighters or pencil grips, to more sophisticated devices such as screen readers. Many devices are hand made by the AT team, case managers, or teachers.• The least complex solution should be used first.• AT tools should match the needs of a student, not their disability: don’t ask an AT team member “a student has ; what should we use?” but rather discuss what the individual’s student’s goals are and tasks they need to accomplish.• AT tools include assistive technology tools but also instructional technology – LCPS already has many instructional technology tools already installed on every computer that may be used by anyone. For a list of software installed on every computer, go to http://bit.ly/lcpsmatrix. Teachers may need training on the use of the software and how it can be used to help students. The AT team can help with training on these tools – contact them if this is needed.• Service: any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The LCPS AT team is able to assist in this area.• Before requesting an AT evaluation in an IEP, contact the AT team trainer assigned to your school. A short discussion may yield immediate suggestions that can help without having to wait for the IEP process to occur.• The AT web site a list of AT trainers assigned to each school (Eagle Ridge’s trainer is Tara Jeffs according to the web site). • Formal evaluations are IEP decisions.• The AT web site can be found at www.lcps.org/AT. There are many resources here that may be useful to teachers and case managers regarding AT. • TTAConlinelearning.org is a place where teachers, other staff, and parents can get information about disabilities and training. Has self-paced online training. Certificates of completion can be gotten for re-licensing points. LCPS AT team also has videos, such as AT Tonight, that can be checked out and viewed for re-licensure points.• Strategy-A-Day calendars available to LCPS staff where each day includes a different AT strategy. • Miscellaneous questions specific to an audience member’s situation were also asked.Following the presentation came the business portion of the meeting. • Lisa Glasgow reported that she asked the school board, at the meeting going on concurrently with this SEAC meeting, for two new special education positions cut from the budget to be reinstated (a behavior specialist and a transition specialist). The school board has been favorable to special education needs in general, and she asked people to email the board thanking them. • Lisa has been involved in two teacher evaluation committees, and states that the new system will be “fair and consistent,” meaning that evaluation will be independent of the administrator giving it, that is, it would be the same no matter who does the evaluation so personal feelings will not be involved. • Mary reported on budget status. She is ready for the process to be over! Hopefully it will be settled by Monday. We expect approximately $9 million in federal funds, which is only 9-10% of what is needed (not 40%, which federal funding is supposed to cover), so funding is dependent on local resources. • Mary also reported that Phoenix will be replacing Encore as special education software. It is already used by Fairfax County and other school systems, so she is hopeful it will be more successful to use than Encore.• School board members Jill Turgeon and Tom Reed both stopped in to say that the VA legislature has voted down the budget, so we are back to not knowing state contributions to the school budget.• The Parent Resource Center reported on various programs and events they have. Further information is available on their web site: http://www.lcps.org/PRC.• The new SEAC executive board was elected.• Surveys of topics to provide for next year’s meeting as well as what are the most important special education needs for schools were distributed and collected.• In response to a question, Mary pointed out it is a myth that special education abuses the bussing system. Only 3 buses in the entire system have more than a bus driver and attendant for special education students. Also, 80% of students who could use special education bussing don’t use it, so there is not as many busses being used as one might think. In addition, if an IEP states a student gets special education bussing, the county has no choice but to comply. This may result in some busses being underutilized, but the alternative is to have a single bus driving all over the county which can be detrimental to the children. Bus drivers continue other routes after completing runs so are never sitting idle.• Various public comments made on topics such as accessible playgrounds, scheduling therapy sessions for Mondays when there often is no school, and food allergies. Public comments are recorded in official minutes found on SEAC page mentioned above.The next SEAC meeting on Tuesday May 15 and features a presentation on MANDT. It will be held in room 102 in the LCPS Administration Building at 7pm. The recognition awards will be help on May 8 at 6:30pm at the school board meeting, with a reception following in room 102.