Special Education Budget Reductions: A Case Example

Johnny J. Burnham, writing for the Thomaston Express (CT), reported on budget cuts made by the Thomaston Board of Education (March 3, 2011).  The reductions included “…one full-time and two part-time custodians, a 10-month secretary, a full-time special education paraprofessional and a special education teacher, according to Thomaston Superintendent Lynda Mitchell.”

A collaborative  learning program to help learning disability students was dropped though it was established last year.

The Superintendent had to cap the budget, as federal money and grant money were lost.  “Regardless, issues including the cost of employee health benefits, the rising cost of special education and the upkeep, insurance and energy to run the three buildings are beyond their control…”

Budget cuts to special education are never made in isolation.  School administrators work tirelessly on tradeoffs.  With special education there are the hazards of federal and state regulations governing required services.  Parents of special needs children must understand.  Other special education teachers must pick up the slack.  No one would envy a superintendent’s job under these circumstances.  Educators do believe in “quality education for all.”

Yet it is a blessing if some districts can see that a little more inclusion using regular education teachers can reduce the number of children placed in special education.  Learning disabled children are among the most vulnerable for mistaken placements in special education.

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