J.E.S.S.E. Co-op to Reorganize

The J.E.S.S.E. Co-op is reorganizing. Rochester schools recently pulled out of the special education cooperative that administers more than 80 different special classes and resource programs which leaves 9 school corporations in our area participating in the program.

With the withdrawal of Rochester, Knox Community School Superintendent A.J. Gappa said the majority of the financial services will now come out of Plymouth Schools.

“It appears that the J.E.S.S.E. Co-op will become an LEA, or Local Education Agency,” said Gappa. “One of the schools most likely to become the financial agent would be Plymouth schools. A lot of the accounting procedures would run through the Plymouth books, but that doesn’t really change the services for the students.”

The schools involved provide special education classes and the students sometimes need to travel to different schools to meet their educational needs, but travel was modified this year.

“What we’ve done this year is all of the students are in place and at Knox, we basically host all of the programs that are needed here and that we have needed. North Judson, I believe, hosts most of the programs. Oregon-Davis a few and so we will be collecting students from Oregon-Davis and North Judson at our programs and our students won’t have to travel as much and they won’t have to travel across the county lines and across time zones.”

The teachers’ role won’t change but their employer will.

“What has been in the past, where the teachers are hired by the J.E.S.S.E. Co-op and paid by J.E.S.S.E., teachers are going to be by the local corporations. It appears that the teachers at Knox, for example, who have been J.E.S.S.E. teachers in the past, will still be teaching the same programs, except they’ll be Knox employees rather than J.E.S.S.E. employees.”

The schools would then be divided into different sections.

“We’ve looked at having four pods within the schools. With Plymouth being the biggest school, they would be a pod on their own. Knox would be grouped with North Judson and Oregon-Davis because that’s just a natural fit. We’re all in the same county and we’re in a different time zone from all of the other schools. At Knox, we host all of the services except for a couple of low incident programs like visually impaired and hearing impaired. That’s not an occurrence that happens regularly, but you have to be prepared for that.”

The Starke County and Plymouth Schools are not the only schools in this cooperative.

“Another pod would be the LaVille and John Glenn school corporations and the fourth pod would be the Culver, Triton and Argos combination.”

All of the changes will be effective in July 2012.