PALS Program for special needs kids could get cut in Chilton Co.


Some Chilton County parents and the superintendent aren't seeing eye-to-eye when to comes to the PALS ( Preschoolers Acquiring Learning Strategies) program.{}The program helps special needs children learn in classrooms with regular children their own age. {}A proposal before the Board of Education could cut the program next year.{}" It's just hard for me to see cutting a program that is serving an area of need that is a growing area of need, " said J. Aaron Ellison, the parent of a student in the program. {}{}Aaron Ellison's 4-year-old son, Aaden, participates in the program. He's been diagnosed with austim.{}{}The little boy can't speak but thanks to the PALS program, he can now communicate with his family." The PALS program has helped him this past year to learn how to communicate through sign language in expressing his needs," said Ellison.{}Superintendent Dave Hayden said the county is dealing with a fiscal problems that's been going on for sometime. The proposed cuts are a way to get the county's finances under control. In spite of the proposed cuts, the superintendent says the needs of these children will be met.{}"Every special needs student will be served in accordance with the law," said Dave Hayden, in a statement to ABC 33/40.{}Parents say the superintendent's fiscal argument doesn't make sense because the program is fully funded by federal and state dollars. So, the money is there.{}Hayden told ABC 33/40 "free money costs the county money." He said there are operation costs associated with running PALS, costs the county can no longer afford.