At Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Dan Gutekanst appointed current K-5 Special Education Director Mary Lammi to the new position of PreK-8 Special Education Director.
“I’m so appreciative to be considered for this position,” Lammi said to the School Committee. “I’m humbled. The bar is raised really high, and I like that.”
Previously, Needham had a special education director for grades 6-8, as well as one for the high school. This move combines the 6-8 position, which has been eliminated, with the younger grades and is part of a larger effort to review and improve the district's special education program.
“We believe this will make for a more streamlined, articulated, efficient and coherent model,” Gutekanst said. “We will continue to have a 9-12 Special Education Director who will work closely with the new PreK-8 director.
“The impetus for the restructuring was not just to save money, but to ensure a more organized and efficient program for students, staff and families," he added. "Any savings in combining these or other positions is being plowed right back into the overall special education program. Over a few years, I hope that we can provide even better services for students and save some dollars by being more efficient moving forward.”
Gutekanst said that the special education program is a significant piece of the overall budget and takes the work of more than just a couple of people to make it work. He said it is important for some of the most vulnerable children and that it requires a couple key people to pull it all together. Lammi, he said, is one of those key people.
“I think Mary has a great capacity to understand problems, to relate to parents and children and I think she can use those skills and her personality and intellect to really think through the program,” Gutekanst said. “She can help make sure we’re putting the right resources toward it and ultimately really providing good programs for kids while being a little more efficient and sustainable. She has the capacity to do that and that makes it all very exciting to me.”