O.B. Stander, president of AMIkids Pasco, recently updated the Pasco County School Board on changes being made to improve the program.
The changes are in response to the board’s Dec. 1 vote to terminate the organization’s contract effective Jan. 29.
When they took the vote, board members made it clear they would revisit the issue and would reinstate AMIkids Pasco, if the organization could demonstrate substantial improvement in its performance by Jan. 12.
The board’s initial action came at the recommendation of Superintendent Kurt Browning, who informed the board that substantial progress would be needed.
At the same time, Browning said he hopes AMIkids Pasco can turn the program around, so it could continue operating it.
AMIkids Pasco serves 46 students, who come from across Pasco County.
The program serves 25 therapeutic emotional/behavior disability students and 21 students in the Department of Juvenile Justice program at a campus of portables on U.S. 41, north of State Road 52 at 18950 Michigan Lane in Spring Hill.
If AMIkids Pasco makes considerable progress, Browning said he will recommend that the board revoke the termination; otherwise, the district will take over operation of the site on Jan. 29.
Browning said discontinuing the district’s relationship with AMIkids Pasco is not the preferable option for him or for Pasco County Schools.
Stander told board members that retired principal Pat Reedy has been helping AMIkids Pasco in the development of an enhanced action plan.
“We changed the school’s leadership team to strengthen both the educational and behavioral modification expertise,” Stander said.
It also has hired additional staff to make sure that class size ratios and mental health needs of the students are being met.
It also has increased staff compensation to a rate that’s higher than the school district’s rate, to improve retention, Stander said.
AMIkids Pasco also has partnered with the University of South Florida’s Department of Applied Behavior Analysis to participate in a pilot program, Stander said. That program includes having a university faculty member, with a doctorate in behavioral analysis, as well as two graduate students on campus, for a total of about 60 hours a week, Stander said.
Published December 30, 2015