WESTMINSTER — The Carroll County Association for Retarded Citizens will have to cope with a new generation of more assertive and independent clients asthe county's school system teaches a growing number of children withdisabilities in mainstream classrooms.
"As we as a school system move to educate all children in the same classroom, those with disabilities will become more social, making your jobs even more difficult," Harry Fogle, supervisor of special education in county schools, told about two dozen people at ARC's quarterly membership meeting.
"The needs of your clients will change, as many of them move froma self-contained education to a less-restricted one. They're going to demand more from you."
The association is a $2 million-a-year organization that provides transportation, support services and job opportunities for about 500 people with developmental disabilities.
One of the more prominent programs ARC manages is Summer Enterprises Inc. That program uses developmentally disabled workers to fill packaging, labeling and manufacturing orders for county businesses.
Fogle outlined significant changes in the county's $9.5 million special education system. As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and federal laws, schools must become more accessible for all students.
The changes involve integrating students with disabilities into regular elementary, middle and high schools, and getting them involved in sports and other extracurricular activities.
And while Fogle said the school system has been working on the integration since 1988, changing laws, budgets and facilities keeps the system on its toes.
One of the biggest obstacles to the whole process, Fogle said, was the state's rapid movement away from specialized schools, such as the Maryland School for the Deaf.
"You can't ignorethe needs of the individual children," he said.
"Some children need specialized programs."
Special education is expensive, he said.While the total amount of money needed for the county's 2,700 developmentally disabled students is about $9.5 million, Fogle told ARC members that three such students cost almost $400,000 a year.
In other business, ARC members were presented with their of
ficers, who will be formally elected during the organization's annual meeting May 19. Nominated for president are: Lorraine A. McLeod, the current president; for vice-president, Vikay Koontz, the current secretary; and for secretary, Mark Krasnansky, a current director.
Also nominated are: for treasurer, Bonnie Copenhaver, the current treasurer; and forthe four directors, Tom Eshelman, Bryan Ensor and current directors Scott Markle and Marsha Barger.