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Hundreds of kids and adults are at risk of losing lifelong services provided by the Gallia County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Due to an increase in the number of people served in the county since the last levy in 2003 and a massive decrease in state funding, a levy is needed to maintain services and keep the Guiding Hand School open.
The board currently provides ongoing opportunities and weekly services to more than 300 people with developmental disabilities and their families in Gallia County, but it comes at a price.
The Board is seeking a one mil levy increase in next week's election. It will be a continuing levy that Superintendent Pamela Combs says will fund the school and services for at least the next 10 years.
For a property owner with a $100,000 property, the increase would be approximately $6.67 a month or $80 annually. For a homeowner of a $50,000 property, the increase would be $3.34 a month or around $40 a year.
Without the passage of the levy, the Guiding Hand School will close before Fall 2018 and students with disabilities will be immediately integrated into a normal school system.
"I know he's getting the help he needs, he definitely needs to be here," Channing Pratt, mom to 3-year-old Gus, told WSAZ. "He gets the therapy he needs."
Pratt says that Gus was non-verbal before he was diagnosed with autism and started at Guiding Hand School.
She says just since August she has noticed a big difference, not only in verbal skills but positive behavioral skills, as well.
"I never thought I would have a child with a disability. I always thought my child was going to be soaring through school and I'd never have to worry about any of that," Pratt said. "You never know. It could be a cousin, it could be a brother or sister, a grandparent. You never know when your child is going to have a disability, so voting for a school like this is definitely needed.
The school teaches preschool for some students that integrate into a typical school system in kindergarten but also teaches school-aged children with moderate to intensive disabilities.
Students are taught academic lessons, as well as real world application.
"It helps them to develop those life skills so that they may be able to work in the community and to find services so that they are able to function more and be more part of the community and to actually be a contributing member," Combs said.
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared on WSAZ. The original story can be found at: http://www.wsaz.com/content/news/Levy-needed-to-continue-developmental-disability-services-in-Gallia-County-454546693.htmla
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