Area educators and public officials plan a ceremony Friday to celebrate the completion of a $1.9 million special education building on the campus of a Beachwood-area elementary school.
The 5,600-square-foot building, on the Joe Stefani Elementary School on Ranchero Lane, is a joint effort between Merced County Office of Education and Merced City School District to serve up to 40 students with moderate to severe disabilities, according to a news release.
“We are extremely excited to have this specially designed facility to help us better serve the educational and health needs of students with the most significant disabilities in Merced County,” said Susan Coston, assistant superintendent for special education for the county office.
Merced County Superintendent of Schools Steven Gomes, Merced City School District Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, are all expected to give remarks during the ceremony at the school, located between Merced and Atwater.
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After an approved school construction project was deleted from a state list, state Sen. Anthony Cannella and Assemblyman Adam Gray pushed for funding for the project.
Of the 57,000 children in school in Merced County, about 6,200 are in special education classes. About 620 have moderate to severe disabilities, which means they have unique physical needs, according to MCOE.
Coston said the district often uses a portable classroom on a school site to accommodate the needs of those students. So the building is the first of its kind in the county in at least 20 years.
The new wing will include 1,442 square feet of therapy space, extra-large bathrooms and larger classrooms to allow specialized therapy equipment and instructional materials. There is office space for health care staff and a physical therapy area.
620The number of students with moderate to severe disabilities served by the Merced County Office of Education
The building has a kitchen to prepare meals for the students as well as help them learn to make meals for themselves.
Students in the wing will get the chance to interact with students in traditional classrooms during meals and special events. Coston said that benefits the population as a whole, because children in the traditional and special education classrooms become more familiar with people who do not look like themselves.
The special education wing will go into use in the fall.
For more information about the ribbon-cutting, call the Merced County Office of Education at (209) 381-6601.
Know and go
Ribbon-cutting for special education wing
Where: Joe Stefani Elementary, 2768 Ranchero Lane in Merced
When: 10 a.m. Friday
Who: Merced County Superintendent of Schools Steven Gomes, Merced City School District Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno