History of BCSSSD

History of BCSSSD

The Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders established the Burlington County Special Services School District in 1972 after the New Jersey Legislature passed an act authorizing the establishment of county special services districts.

Initially, the district assumed responsibility for 30 handicapped students. Adhering to the philosophy of individualized instruction coupled with a practical approach to learning, the newly formed district began to develop a solid reputation for quality, which led to a gradual demand for more placements. Within five years, the district housed five hundred students from 40 school districts in Burlington County. District programs became widely renowned for the opportunities they provided for the students. Practical skills were emphasized in the classrooms, shops and through community work placements.

With continued growth projected for the 1980s, the need for a new facility for the district was clearly established. With the County Freeholders support, the district moved into its new building in the county complex on Woodlane Road in Westampton in January 1983. Quickly establishing a national reputation for its programs, staff and facilities, the district continued to expand throughout the 1980s. The demand for services grew throughout the county resulting in a lengthy waiting list for pupils to enroll.

Responding to the pressing needs of the county school districts, the district moved in 1990 to open a new high school program for at-risk students. The district's Lumberton Campus filled this need. Stressing a hands-on, project-oriented approach to learning, the Lumberton Campus has grown, providing greater numbers of junior and senior high school youngsters with the motivation to stay in school, learn important skills, and succeed at work. By the end of the 1990-1991 school year, district enrollment approached 900. A waiting list still remained due to the steady increase in the special education population in the region.

In September 1991, the district opened a campus in Willingboro. This program met the needs of kindergarten through eighth grade students. The major goal at Willingboro was to teach students how to overcome learning and behavioral difficulties. Also housed at the Willingboro campus was a teenage pregnancy program. The Willingboro campus has since been assimilated into the Westampton campus, and in 1995 a new junior-senior high school was built on Pioneer Boulevard at the Westampton Complex.

The success of the program and its many graduates have led to its being widely emulated both nationally and internationally. The Burlington County Special Services District exists to serve the most severely handicapped pupils in the most cost-efficient manner. This mission continues as the district moves forward in meeting the growing region's expanding need for special education programs and services.