02 Apr Budget Cuts Reach Special Ed at ZachApril 2, 2010
By: MARCY MIRANDA Source: Coloradoan
The impacts of budgets cuts are making their way into the halls of Poudre School District schools.
Two special-needs teachers at Zach Core Knowledge School will not be rehired next year because of budget cuts, Principal Don Rangel said Thursday.
However, only one position is going away, and Zach will continue serving its special-needs students, he said.
"There will still be a special-needs program within our school," Rangel said.
A nonprobationary teacher will continue leading Zach’s integrated services program, and several paraprofessionals currently at the school will continue supporting students, said Sarah Belleau, PSD’s assistant director of integrated services.
Before making the cuts at Zach, the district looked at the demand for integrated services next year and ensured those needs would still be met, Belleau said.
"It’s been done fair and equitable. We work hard to be fair," she said.
At Zach, the integrated services budget was completed several weeks ago, Rangel said. That budget was reduced by 3.75 percent, in accordance with rec ommended cuts by the district.
As school districts across the state face reductions in funds, PSD is anticipating having $12 million less in its budget for next year. The district has asked each school and department to prepare budgets with a recommended percentage, instructing programs that work directly with students to cut budgets by a smaller percentage than district departments and support services.
Schools across the district are cutting budgets by 4.5 percent, athletic programs are reducing budgets by 6 percent and nondirect instructional departments are cutting 8 percent to 10 percent, according to the district’s budget office.
In addition, the extra funds that special education programs receive from the state and federal government have also decreased as the number of students with individualized education plans, or IEPs, have fallen across the state, Belleau said.
"Along the Front Range … everybody is down 5 percent," she said. The amount of additional funds districts receive for students with disabilities is determined by a head count taken yearly on Dec. 1, she said. Last year, 130 fewer students with IEPs enrolled at PSD, which determined the funding for this year, Belleau said.
Rangel said special education hasn’t been fully funded from the government for several years.
"The reality is it takes funds to educate kids. When your funds are less … it does have an impact," Rangel said.
Contractual obligations require the district to provide nonprobationary teachers a full-time position, meaning they must be accommodated within the district if their hours or positions are cut at their current school, said Greg Grote, president of the Poudre Education Association, the teach ers union. He said the district is in a difficult situation.
"Good people are going to be affected. It’s very unfortunate," he said.