NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – At a meeting of the Board of Education Thursday night, Assistant Superintendent Deborah Feinberg reported that between Sept. 1, 2009 and Aug. 31, the school district used over $494,000 in federal stimulus funds to make significant improvements to the programs offered to special education students.

The funds have allowed the district to improve classrooms, add technology and provide teacher training. The changes did not cost the district additional money because staff salaries were covered in the annual school budget, Feinberg said.

Younger students have the opportunity to move more quickly from the half-day to the full-program, depending on their readiness, as classrooms are now across the hall from one another, rather than in separate schools.

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The district enhanced job training program will prepare high school students in the Language and Learning Disabilities (LLD5) program with marketable skills.

One example is "Monthly Munchies" a program in which the students prepare cookies to sell at school. Feinberg also said she has purchased the cookies for special events.

"It may sound like a bake sale," Feinberg said, "but the students get credits for running a business."

Another popular job training program employs a foil-imprinting machine to create products like specialty napkins for use by groups hosting events where food is offered.

Feinberg suggested the class could be an opportunity for students to make significant money by offering a service.

Feinberg also explained that the district saved approximately $180,000 in special education preschool tuition by returning five children to New Providence schools who had previously been educated outside the district.

In other news at the meeting, Superintendent David M. Miceli announced that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan named the high school a “Blue Ribbon” school and further information would be provided at the board’s next meeting on Sept. 26.