(AP) When a school district’s principal gets a call about a customer with a special need, he’s not only getting a chance to help a family that needs it most but he’s getting a discount on school supplies.
But that’s not the case at the Hiram County School District in southeast Alabama, where principals are working to improve how they distribute supplies to students.
The district is offering discounts for students who have special needs, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy or epilepsy-related eye disease.
It’s also offering discounted supplies for students with a disability or disabilities.
That’s a significant change for the district, which has been a leader in addressing the needs of students with disabilities.
The program is one of a few around the country that are offering discounts to students with special needs.
But it’s the first time a district has made the effort to offer a discount for students.
“We know that kids with special need students are in need of the most, and we want to make sure they have the best resources that they need,” said Principal Jennifer Anderson, whose district is part of the Birmingham Area School District.
“If you don’t have the most expensive school supplies, you need to make up for that with your own resources.”
Hiram County Schools has had an online enrollment system for more than a year.
It lets teachers, counselors and administrators give discounts to families who qualify.
The school district also is working to make changes to its discounts to help students with the most common special needs like epilepsy and cerebral palsys.
The district’s new discounts are the latest steps to help reduce the burden of special education, but it’s not enough to help all students.
There’s one problem.
The program is not going to work in every school district.
Schools in Alabama can’t give discounts for any child who has a disability, including those with epilepsy.
“There are still a lot of districts that have to make a tough choice,” said David Stroud, a special education teacher at Hiram.
Stroud said some districts are already making the difficult decision to cut special education services to students because of costs.
But the district said the new discounts for special needs are meant to help schools that are not able to offer discounted supplies because of financial concerns.
“That’s what’s happening at Hirams,” Anderson said.
The new discounts give students a chance at the best possible school supplies and get them out of poverty, she said.
“A lot of our students, we’ve been working with them to make it better, and this is the first step in helping them achieve that goal,” Anderson added.
The system is set up to make the most of each student’s unique needs, Anderson said, but there’s no guarantee it will be the best.
“I’m really confident in the system we have, but we are still learning,” she said, adding that it will take time for the system to work well.
“It’s not just about making sure that we’re giving them the best supplies, but making sure we’re also getting the best educational resources for their students.”
To qualify for the discounts, a student must be in school and attend a special needs-friendly school.
A student who has epilepsy or cerebral palsies must be at least 18 years old.
A school district can only offer discounts for specific types of supplies.
Students can qualify for discounts if they have certain special needs or are attending a special-needs school.
“In order to be able to provide the discount we’re doing, it has to be appropriate to the needs and special needs of our children,” Anderson explained.
“The only way we can really make sure we provide the best education for our students is to work with our students to understand the difference between what is a special purpose supply and what is appropriate for them.”
Hirsam School District has received more than 4,000 calls from parents with children with special-need needs and a total of 6,500 of those calls have been for students under the age of 18.
“This is the biggest gift that we’ve ever received,” Stroud said.
Anderson said the district is working with students with epilepsy and is providing discounted supplies.
“These are students that need a great education and are going to have to take time to figure out what’s the best way to learn,” Anderson noted.
The Hiram district said in a statement that the discounts will be offered through the school day.
Students who receive a discount are given the opportunity to buy the supplies they need at a local retail store.
Hirams district also offers discounts on supplies for special-education students.
They are not given the chance to buy from a store.
“With the special-purpose supplies, the teachers are in charge of what they can and can’t provide, and it is what they are going for,” Anderson continued.
“It’s something that we have been working on, but in some cases we may not