The Bergenfield Public School District was notified that it was selected to be awarded the New Jersey Department of Education’s Preparing Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for Life in the Community, Integrated Employment, and Post-School Success Grant. Superintendent Christopher Tully and his staff are currently cooperating with a representative of the Department of Education to complete Pre-Award Revisions to finalize the proposal.
The grant award will provide $330,000 per year for three years to establish a model program for students with disabilities aged 16 to 21. Grant activities will include implementing transition-focused services based on each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
To implement the new model, Bergenfield School District will be purchase curriculum materials; increase access to technology for participating students; create a mock apartment within the classroom; and dramatically increase out of school learning opportunities through Structured Learning Experiences and Community Based Instruction.
The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare more students with disabilities for independent living. To this end, Bergenfield School District will establish a partnership with a New Jersey college or university to develop post-secondary education opportunities such as adult education or college courses for credit. Also, agencies will cooperate to develop on-campus internships, paid employment, and dormitory and campus life experiences for participating students to share with non-disabled peers.
The intent of the Preparing Students with IEPs for Life in the Community, Integrated Employment, and Post-School Success project is to promote positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities through the local education agency’s (LEA) implementation of model practices and program components.
Through this NGO, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) will provide local education agencies (LEAs) the opportunity to establish a model program for students with disabilities aged 16 to 21 by implementing transition-focused services within the local community, based on each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The model programs will increase the number of students with disabilities who are prepared for the transition from school to adult life. Program service options will include, but are not be limited to the following:
- Person-centered planning
- Community-based instruction
- Systematic instruction during age-appropriate activities in the community such as integrated, competitive employment, adult education classes including college courses, public transportation utilization, shopping, recreational activities with peers without disabilities, and facilitating linkages between students and adult service agencies such as the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities
It is further intended that each funded LEA will continue to serve students with disabilities aged 16 to 21 beyond the funding of this grant program.
BSD will work to improve educational experiences within the classroom and beyond the classroom walls. This will include increasing staff to improve the staff to student ratio; training staff to implement person centered planning and instruction; purchasing new curriculum and instructional supplies; creating a mock apartment inside a BSD facility to practice life skills; and offering post-secondary adult education classes and college classes through a partnership with Seton Hall University.
Improvements in transition outside the classroom will include increased opportunities for Community Based Learning and Structured Learning Experiences; increases in the number of students placed in integrated, competitive employment; increased opportunities for leisure and recreation with non-disabled peers through a partnership with Bergenfield Recreation and Bergenfield Public Library, and increased opportunities to practice navigating the hustle and bustle of life in an urban community.
Through training from Seton Hall University and Rutgers University's Boggs Center, BSD will also increase the number of school personnel, parents and family members, and students trained to work collaboratively to help pilot students. Also, BSD will impact NJ by sharing lessons learned and best practices developed through this pilot.