Teachers to return despite change

GREENFIELD — Familiar faces will welcome Greenfield-Central special education students next school year, now that most of the teachers hired for a new educational program run by Greenfield-Central schools are returning as district employees.

Greenfield-Central is pulling out of a multicounty cooperative that served special education students and paid for staffing. Of the 36 resource teachers, interpreters, speech specialists and more who were employed by the cooperative but working at Greenfield-Central schools, 32 contracts were transferred to Greenfield-Central.

Four teachers were not hired by Greenfield-Central but remain employees of Hancock Madison Shelby Educational Services, and four new teachers were hired for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Harold Olin said it’s a sign of a strong staff that so many teachers were retained. They’ve been a part of the Greenfield-Central community for years, he said. Now they will be paid by Greenfield-Central schools at the same rate they had been making under the cooperative.

“It’s thrilling that so many teachers were dedicated enough that they want to stay with the kids they’ve been serving, and they want to come on and be a part of Greenfield-Central schools,” said David Walker, Greenfield-Central special education director. “We’ve got a very solid … staff that are all dedicated to serving kids, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Walker, who was hired in April to head up Greenfield-Central’s new special education program, said he sat in on most of the interviews with the staff members and is excited about the new chapter for special education in Greenfield.

“It just demonstrates the kind of commitment that people have to serving kids, and it demonstrates the commitment Greenfield-Central is going to have to serving kids,” Walker said.

The Greenfield-Central board decided last year to pull out of the cooperative, which serves more than 3,200 special education students in six area school districts. Greenfield-Central is the largest district, with about 960 special education students.

Olin told the board Monday that he is still working on a severance agreement with the co-op; the board hopes to officially withdraw by July 1 so the district can have more direct control over special education programming.

Meanwhile, the board is in the process of purchasing a building for a new alternative school, which will serve a handful of students who administrators believe would be better served outside a traditional school setting.

The building, at 526 Wilson St., will replace the district’s use of the facility at 1834 Fields Blvd., which is owned by the cooperative.

The school board will conduct a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the new alternative school. The meeting is open to the public and is designed to answer community questions about the purchase. School officials have put in a preliminary offer of $325,000 for the 8,700-square-foot building.