The Wisconsin Department of Instruction, through its Transition Readiness Grant program, has awarded the Milton School District an $89,000 grant to help support career-readiness education for special education students.
The program supports Wisconsin’s students with disabilities as they transition to work and postsecondary education environments after high school. The TRG funds allowed the district to purchase wheelchair-accessible vehicles to better accommodate transportation of students with mobility limitations.
Declan Boran-Ragotzy, Milton High School’s special education teacher, described for the Milton School Board at its Monday meeting how the grant money will help students.
“When I’m talking about a student’s disability, I’m talking about a student who has an individualized educational plan,” Boran-Ragotzy said. “When we’re talking about transition, we are talking about three major components. We are talking about college and career readiness, independent functional living skills, and recreational opportunities.”
Within the special education program is the SOAR program. The acronym stands for soft skills, opportunities, adult services and resources. The program is for students older than 18 and focuses on disability-related needs and goals.
Currently, 47% of these students work 35 hours or more per work week. The district’s goal is to raise that percentage to 75% by the end of 2023, then have 50% of students in SOAR pursue higher education.
“I think it’s really important that you recognize that when you have to use those intercommunication skills with these agencies (that help people apply for a jobs and more) that it can be a lot for one person to manage,” Boran-Ragotzy said. “That’s why the IEP team is so important. Even starting at the middle school level, it is important to start talking about community agencies so that families have a solid foundational knowledge and understanding of what each agency does as they come to their senior year.”
He added that when he came to Milton, he knew he was coming to a community that believes and follows through with actionable steps to make sure that students receive the best opportunities.
After his presentation, Boran-Ragotzy answered a few questions from school board members. When board member Dave Holterman asked how much the grant was for, Boran-Ragotzy said it was for $89,000 but that “based on student enrollment, we will be able to utilize $69,000 of that.”