Future of special needs program uncertain in Wake schools

March 1, 2010 4:56:05 PM PST
With all the other controversy currently embroiling Wake County schools, $20 million in proposed cuts to Central Services has gotten little attention.

Now, parents have launched a grassroots effort to save the longtime program called Project Enlightenment. It's been part of the Wake County school system for 40 years, but now its future is uncertain. Job cuts are possible.

In the program, highly trained teachers work with students with special needs, developmental delays, and others with very few issues. That helps create a truly diverse classroom.

Five-year-old Alexander Colston is autistic. His mother says he wouldn't talk or participate in his daycare class. But in Project Enlightenment, he's done a 180.

"Because of their efforts, we have every reason to believe that he is going to be successful in kindergarten and be able to go to regular school and be very successful and will need fewer services in the future because of their efforts," said Aylett Colston.

Project Enlightenment is also a great training tool for current and future teachers. There's an observation booth where they can see the best practices, best way to deal with a variety of situations.

"I just feel like this is such a huge resource that early childhood educators have and I don't know where they'd go if it weren't here," offered parent Elizabeth Jordan.

What educators learn in Project Enlightenment is taken to schools across the county and beyond - impacting thousands of children every day. It's a resource center that provides help for parents - everything from grief counseling, to behavior workshops.

It helps create stronger families, better educators, and the goal is to help some of the most vulnerable students succeed.

Supporters of Project Enlightenment will find out Tuesday whether the program is in jeopardy when the superintendent proposes his budget. Some school board members say they will fight to save it.

Click here for more about the project

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