Special Education Budgets

I had a frustrating conversation with a paraeducator the other night. She spoke to me about the bruise she had from a special needs student (I believe in 5th grade) and her visit to Concentra. (They handle workers’ compensation issues for HCPSS.)  She said her husband says to her periodically that she could leave her job.

But she won’t. She cares about that kid that hurt her. She is constantly thinking about new approaches to help him. Her principal is supportive and that helps, knowing he’s on her side.

As the school system grows, there will be more students with special needs. One special education advocate has told me that 10% should be assumed to have some need for an Individual Education Plan. (That can range from a speech issue requiring weekly sessions to individually assigning a staff member to work with a student on a daily basis.)

Which leads me to the Superintendent’s proposed FY17 budget. Since they go through the budget page by page during the work sessions, I was doing the same in preparing myself. On p. 29, there’s a Reconciliation of FY 2017 Budget Funding to the FY 2016 Operating Budget.

Under “Investments to maintain high quality organization practices,” there is a line item that says “increase in operational staff and supplies including replacement of laptops for special education teachers and providers, custodial supplies and technology initiatives (4.0 FTE).” Doesn’t that make you think special education is getting a staffing increase?

Oops. No.

School-based special education services are projected to have a >9% increase in students in FY2017 under the proposed budget. That seems reasonable right? But there is NO increase in staff, either professional or support. More context: a Board of Education member told a community member that the District Management report on Special Ed services had bad results and they didn’t want to release the report.

So what ARE those four full-time equivalents in Special Education? The detailed department budgets include increases for the Regional Early Childhood Centers, which is GREAT to hear. This is a wonderful program for inclusion and early intervention with pre-schoolers.

At the heart of a great school, there is partnership between educators and parents. From what I’ve seen and heard, that is doubly important for special needs children. How can the population increase without a staffing increase? With the many hours that our SES educators spend on IEP administration already, how can this be ignored? Why is it ignored? My possible answers to those questions are part of why I’m running.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Special Education Budgets

  1. Barb Krupiarz says:

    Those 4 new teachers are for preK as you said, but don’t forget that they are projecting 168 new students in preK programs as well. 42 to 1 student to teacher ratio for special needs (some intensive needs) kids?

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  2. Lisa says:

    They are probably ramping up for TS Gold standards in Pre-K. On paper TS Gold sounds like a wonderful program. In reality, it takes many hours for someone (teacher) to enter all the “data” into the system. Pre-K should be about playing with other children ONLY and not a “data mining” expedition for the sake of rating children at such an early age.

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  3. Barb Krupiarz says:

    Our SECAC Board met with the Special Ed leadership yesterday and I raised the question about the increase in special ed preschool students and the seemingly low number of staff increases to accommodate those students. They are confident that there is enough staff already in place to handle the increase, so they do not have to add as many as it seems. In fact, they tell us that our ratios are better than other counties. So, that is good news.
    I am particularly disillusioned, however, that I (and others) have been asking for parent participation on the special ed audit work groups for the last year. The work groups are expecting to work for 3-5 years on the audit recommendations. Our Board of Ed and the Superintendent talk about Vision 2018 and the parent participation goals all the time, but they do not practice what they preach.
    Barb Krupiarz, Chair, Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC)

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    • Lorraine Hewitt says:

      Hi Barb, I am interested in getting more information on the parent participation on the special ed audit work groups you are referencing. How can I get involved?

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