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Old 02-01-2013, 09:48 PM
 
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Hi everyone
I have a question about special education districts and states. I have two weeks to decide about taking a job in Bridgeport CT, Harrisburg PA or Newark DE. My decision solely depends on special education facilities in these areas as my daughter is a preschooler and was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism a year and a half ago. We are currently in New York City and this is a big move for us. She attends a special Ed preschool five days a week, all full days.
My research so far says that if I opt for Harrisburg, I can live in mechanics burg, commute everyday and she can go to Cumberland valley special Ed program which is supposedly very good. For Bridgeport I was thinking that we could live in Valhalla,westchester and she would attend school there and I would commute to Bridgeport everyday. I have no idea about delaware except I might live in Philly and commute and she attend a school in Philly. Any comments people?
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:05 AM
 
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Why do you mention Newark DE if you would live in Philly? Here's my Newark area suggestion, using schools as your main criteria. In general, Pennsylvania has better schools then Delaware. However, Philly has some of the worst schools in the state so if you are thinking of living in PA and commuting to Newark you would want to look at areas to the North of Newark, in PA, not east. The closer you get to Philadelphia, the more expensive the homes (with the exception of the crappy places like Chester) and the worse the traffic. The traffic between Philadelphia and Newark would be a nightmare - I can't imagine why anyone would choose to do that. There are great school districts in PA bordering DE.

I think you are right in leaning towards Harrisburg. It's a beautiful area of our state and there are good schools there too.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:43 AM
 
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Yes I am leaning towards Harrisburg big time. Do you have any idea about how good cumberland valley SD is? Also anyone got anything to say about the Bridgeport bit?
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:20 AM
 
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Cumberland looks good, but I have no personal experience with it. Cumberland Valley High School, Mechanicsburg PA School Profile, Ranking, and Reviews - SchoolDigger.com

I know more about Southeastern PA and Delaware schools because I've lived in those areas. The school digger website is good once you've figured out a general area and then you can compare the schools surrounding that area. Unfortunately, you can't compare schools in one state to another because they are using a singular state's tests. Also, since you are looking for special support for your child, you will need to do even more investigation. I would suggest asking in the State/city forum for personal suggestions once you narrow it down. AND, I would physically visit a school and ask for an appointment for a meeting with the Support Services director to ask specific questions.

PA has Intermediate Units that also support children with special needs. They do screenings for very young children before they start school as well as help older kids. Here is their website: https://www.paiu.org/
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:30 AM
 
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Yes I was hoping to get done with my final interview next week and then make a decision. I am definitely leaning towards the cumberland valley and will be visiting the school soon. The only aspect that I didn't find satisfying was that PA mainstreams kids before assigning them to pure special Ed classrooms. It has its pros and cons but I am on the fence with that. Other than that, I love mechanics burg area so far and cumberland valley SD. I spoke to the director of special Ed there and was surprised to find him a very pleasant man, so unlike NYC.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:44 AM
 
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And what about delaware specifically? Are there SBH school districts better than the others? Which one is the best?
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:03 AM
 
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The way I would research this would be to just pick one school district in the Newark area and then do a school comparison for schools within 10 miles. Just compare the High Schools. Unless you are planning to move often it makes no sense to concentrate on elementary schools. Boundaries can change, Middle and HS can be bad but elementary schools are usually good just about anywhere. Once you eliminate schools because they have really poor scores you should be left with just one or two.

I would post your questions on the DE forums. Posters there generally live in Northern Delaware and can provide guidance. Years ago when we were deciding between NJ, PA and DE we found the PA schools to be better but we did not have special needs kids, so your search criteria is different.

As for your concern about mainstreaming in PA, that may be true but I know in our district they have one on one aids that will travel with the special needs student from class to class in HS and sit with them in the classroom in younger grades they also pull them out for small group help. My son had a classmate that was diagnosed as autistic but fully participated in HS and was in all the HS plays. His parents moved to our area for the special support.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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What about if you work in Delaware but live in New Jersey. I remember hearing that New Jersey has one of the best autism programs in the country.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:14 PM
 
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NJ does have autism programs that are very similar to NYC but south jersey which is closer to DE is not a great place to live. Also school wise it is different than the rest of NJ. Otherwise jersey is very efficient and well equipped with autism support
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:58 PM
 
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It depends where in South Jersey you are referring to because that is where I live and I love it. I moved down here from NYC. Hopefully you'll find a good spot soon.
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