"SB 289 reauthorizes the Special Education Service Agency for another nine years, to June 30, 2013."
- Sen. Green
"An Act extending the termination date of the special education service agency; and providing for an effective date."
The Alaska Legislature established the Special Education Service Agency (SESA) in 1986 to help schools and infant learning programs provide required services for children with severe disabilities where there is no local expertise. SESA makes it possible for services to be delivered to districts that could not otherwise hire specialists; for instance small and low attendance remote areas, or in a district where there was only one disabled child.
SESA employs professionals specializing in severe disabilities such as blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, autism, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, deaf-blindness, and significant physical and emotional disabilities. SESA offers school-wide and district-wide consultations and support, local and regional services and workshops, statewide workshops and courses, technical assistance newsletters, and an extensive library and website. As intended by the legislature, student-specific service is targeted to small school districts, but SESA's workshops, courses, library, newsletter and website are provided to all schools.
SESA receives core funding through the Department of Education and Early Development. The appropriation for FY2005 is included in the Governor's proposed budget. SESA received positive performance reviews from the Division of Legislative Audit and was extended by the legislature in 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1995. The Division again recommends continuation. The Alaska Association of School Boards, The Alaska Association of School Administrators, The National Education Association-Alaska, The Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, and the Department of Education and Early Development each support the extension of SESA.
The availability of specialized personnel in Alaska has decreased at the same time the incidence of severe disabilities has increased. SESA provides important functions for Alaskan children who would otherwise have to leave their families and communities to receive services in costly residential programs. SB 289 reauthorizes the Special Education Service Agency for another nine years, to June 30, 2013.