Some of the school district’s dyslexic students would get specialized teaching to overcome the neurological reading disorder as early as this fall under legislation sponsored by Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart.
“I’m cautiously optimistic” of the initiative’s chances in the Florida Legislature’s special session underway now through June 20, said Harrell, who has a dyslexic 10-year-old grandson in another state.
Her bill would provide $5 million for a public school pilot program in five counties, including Martin. The plan is modeled after a dyslexia magnet school in Jacksonville established under Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who is dyslexic. Duval County experts would oversee the efforts in the five counties.
In Martin, the program initially would serve 125 children in grades 2-5 at J.D. Parker School of Science, Math and Technology in east Stuart.
Each pilot would receive $800,000 to $900,000 a year to hire teaching assistants, train them and other teachers, buy specialized curriculum materials and reduce dyslexia class sizes to no more than 16 students.
“It’s total immersion,” Harrell said. “Dyslexic kids have to be taught differently, and it takes a multidisciplinary approach. Feel the letters, say the letters, manipulate the letters, memorize them. They can learn to cope with it.”