At the urging of a trustee whose own daughter is disabled, the Conejo Valley school board agreed Thursday to restructure its summer school programs to include special education students.
Traditionally, summer school for substantially disabled students has been held on one campus, while summer school for other students has been held on separate campuses.
But at a board meeting earlier this month, Trustee Elaine McKearn accused the district of segregating disabled students and requested that officials re-evaluate how summer school is organized.
"They cannot have all the severely handicapped at one campus and the regular kids at another campus," said McKearn, whose 10-year-old daughter, Heather, has Down's syndrome.
"You can have good education with children who have special needs on the same campus," she said.
The board agreed unanimously to try the integrated summer school as a pilot program this year, but the plan was not warmly embraced by some trustees.
"I don't see any reason for changing what we're doing . . . since there was nothing legally wrong with it," Trustee Mildred Lynch said. "It does not seem worth the change."
Placing special education students on an isolated campus is legal, but many Ventura County school districts have chosen to integrate the disabled children into their regular summer school, said assistant Supt. Richard Simpson.
"It is certainly well within what special education parents are asking for," he said.
For years, the district has offered summer school programs for special education students in preschool to 12th grade. Those "extended year" programs were housed on one campus.
"It was a centralization for efficiency," Supt. Jerry C. Gross explained.
But since the school district is trying to encourage the integration of special education students into mainstream classes, the restructuring of summer school was a logical recommendation, Gross said.
"It is a direction that special education has been going for a number of years," Gross said.
Under the new plan, summer school for all students in preschool to third grade will be held at Glenwood Elementary School, grades four to six will be held at Conejo Elementary School and grades seven to 12 at Thousand Oaks High School.
Although summer school enrollment is not yet known, the district expects about 445 elementary students and 850 secondary students to join 225 special education students at those campuses for summer classes.
The cost to restructure summer school programs will be minimal for Conejo Valley Unified School District--just $100, Gross said. That money will pay transportation costs for some special education instructors traveling between schools.
The expenditure will come out of the district's summer school budget, Gross said.
In other actions Thursday night, the board reviewed a budget forecast for 1995-96 that projects a $2.4-million surplus. Substantial budget cuts in past years and an increase in class size have prevented Conejo from falling into deep deficits that other school districts are now facing, Gross said.
"We have made $9.4 million in cuts to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.
The preliminary estimate is based on current staffing levels and maintains the 3% salary reduction for teachers, counselors and principals approved by the board last year. A complete budget for next school year will be presented in June.