FARMINGTON — John Jones, director of special services for Regional School Unit 9, appeared before the board of directors on Monday, March 6, to give an update on the services and programs in the school district.

Previously, Jones appeared before the board in October of last year, speaking on the rise in staffing in the wake of COVID-19. At the time, special services had managed to onboard eight new staff members and based on his report on Monday, they have continued to bring more staff into the program.

“I’m happy to say that we’ve somehow managed to fill all of our [education technician] positions,” Jones stated to the board.

Since November, the program has managed to hire the following:

• A speech and language pathologist to begin in August 2023

• An occupational therapist who started working on Feb. 6, 2023


• A high school adaptive skills teacher

• Four education technicians and five long term substitutes

• A tele-practice support education technician

The following positions remain vacant:

• K-2 special education teacher

• MBMS special education teacher, day treatment program [Currently interviewing candidates]


• MBHS special education teacher [Currently interviewing candidates]

• Educational technicians: seven open positions of 77 available [these seven positions currently have long term subs with three awaiting certifications]

Jones also reported on the first meeting of the newly established Special Education Advisory Committee on Feb. 2. The purpose of the meeting was designed to begin orienting the committee to their work ahead with a particular focus on strategic planning goals.

The committee features a diverse group of parents, general and regular education teachers, social workers administrators and representatives from University of Maine Farmington.

Jones stated the project was particularly exciting for him, saying “it’s the only committee of its kind that exists in Maine, believe it or not, so that’s going to be a lot of fun and I think a lot of positive things will come out of that.”

“I’m assuming that the [Special Education Advisory Committee] will inform and dovetail with the district’s strategic planning and goal setting,” Director Richard Ruhlin of Industry asked.


“Yeah,” Jones answered. “And I don’t think it’s going to be limited necessarily to that, but that’s where we’re beginning, because there’s a lot of issues that go along with educating students with disabilities.”

Jones also noted in his report that their offices and buildings have accommodated 54 students who have transferred to RSU 9 since August after moving here from other districts, including those from out of state.

Roughly a third of those students have significant educational and/or mental health needs, Jones stated in his report, which is requiring increased adult support along with expanded services such as specialized transportation, out of district placements, related services, and health and/or behavior plans.

Director Gloria McGraw of Farmington noted the high number of students transferring in and asked if there was any kind of pattern among the incoming students.

“There’s a lot of variables and factors to consider there, but I do think we have a great staff, we have some good programming and that will continue to improve,” Jones stated.

“I’m not out there with a sign you know, [saying] ‘come on in’,” he added.

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