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— When the 2011-12 school year begins this September, the Skaneateles School District will have two new members on its special education team: a full-time occupational therapist and a part-time physical therapist.

The additions will improve the overall quality of the district's special education program by having therapists on staff and on site, rather than using visiting contractors. It also will save the district money.

"We are all extremely excited about this because the therapists will be a more integral part of the special education team rather than outside contractors, and both of the new hires have a wealth of experience and knowledge," said Vicky Garrett, interim director of pupil personnel and special services, and also school psychologist.

The Skaneateles Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Elaine Croucher as a full-time occupational therapist, at a salary of $50,725, and Dr. Colleen Shaver as a part-time physical therapist, at a salary of $28,400, during its June 21 meeting. Both appointments begin Sept. 1, although both women already have started preparing for the fall.

Croucher comes to Skaneateles from the Fayetteville-Manlius district where she worked as a part-time occupational therapist for the 2010-11 school year. She received her master's degree in occupational therapy from Utica College in May 2010, and previously worked various occupational and physical therapy jobs in Oswego between 1998 and 2010.

Shaver comes to Skaneateles from Onondaga Central School District, where she worked from 1987 through the 2010-11 school year. She received her doctorate in physical therapy from SUNY Upstate Medical University in 2006, and her B.A. from Upstate in 1977. She has worked as a pediatric therapist for the past 34 years.

Board of Education President Evan Dreyfuss said hiring the new therapists was "big news" for the district, that it offers better control of the special education program and helps the budget by reducing the costly expenditures of the previous contracting system. "We couldn't be more excited about the possibilities [Croucher and Shaver] bring to Skaneateles."

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