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Bucks IU celebrates another successful Extended School Year program 


When skills and learning are not continually practiced or regularly used, a regression can often occur, and this can be especially true for students with special needs.

For these students, not having school over the summer can result in a significant loss of the skills and learning they have worked so hard to achieve. For five weeks each summer, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) runs an Extended School Year (ESY) program for qualified students with special needs. ESY provides an opportunity for the maintenance of academic levels as well as emotional, behavioral, and social skills.

This year the Bucks IU ESY program served almost 1,100 students, a 14% increase over previous years. Almost half of the students attended full-day ESY programming at one of five Bucks IU locations within the county. The other students received ESY services at school district locations, home-based, group-based, charter school, and private school locations. The Bucks IU ESY program proudly offered a schedule with more days and longer hours per day than many other similar programs.

Many students attending ESY, do so because they require several combinations of services to address and support their unique needs. This year, the total number of services provided came to almost 2,300 which represented an increase of 200 services over the past years. Included are the wide variety of support services related to autistic, behavioral, emotional, life skills, specialized learning, social skills and those services unique to multiple disability students. In addition are the related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision-mobility-orientation, speech and language services, and services for the hearing impaired.

A staff of 383 were hired for ESY this year to provide all the necessary services at the expected Bucks IU level of quality. Even with a high number of returning staff year-to-year, finding the right people, and getting everyone up to speed adds an elevated level of complexity to creating this school district sized program each summer. Additionally, transportation services for these students are also managed through the Bucks IU.

Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU executive director, stated, “The Bucks IU ESY program provides a wonderful opportunity for students to continue to work on important skills through the summer. Thanks to the Bucks IU ESY program, our students can proudly begin this coming school year on track and ready to learn.”

Eligibility to attend ESY is determined during a meeting of the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team. This group reviews a wide variety of factors as they relate to the student’s IEP goals of academic achievement while reaching the highest possible level of self-sufficiency and independence. Students attend the Bucks IU ESY program from school districts throughout Bucks County and other southeastern Pennsylvania counties.

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