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September 16, 2013

Regional district advances dyslexia program

MANCHESTER — Manchester Essex Regional school officials, while considering potential changes in the structure of their elementary program formats, are continuing to move forward successfully with one program that’s helping kids with learning needs and easing the burden on taxpayers, too.

The district has saved an estimated $165,000 thanks to a program aimed at helping 4th and 5th graders with dyslexia, according to a prepared statement from Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.

The program was funded by a Community Innovation Challenge grant with an eye toward providing money for one-time or transition costs related to regionalization and other efficiency initiatives.

The program, now in its second year, is housed in Manchester Memorial Elementary School, but students at neighboring Essex Elementary can take part, too.

To qualify, students must be diagnosed with a reading disability, have an average or above average cognitive skills and have a history of real challenges in the classroom according to Allison Collins, the director of student services.

In its first year, the class had six students, but eight students are in the program this year, with six students also taking part in a similar program for 6th graders at the Manchester Essex Middle School.

When students show they can exit the program by improving their reading and language skills, they can reintegrate back into the classroom.

”We are really working intensively on those skills,” Collins said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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