Just two weeks away from adoption of Spokane Public Schools’ 2011-’12 budget, dozens of instructional assistants’ jobs remain on the chopping block.
The district administration has balanced the budget and plugged the $13 million hole, and on Wednesday recommended bringing back up to 40 of the 59 positions – all of which are designated to the classrooms of children with mild learning disabilities. The state gave the district $500,000 more than anticipated for special education.
But the school board had other ideas, asking the administration to explore adding at least five early intervention elementary teachers and bringing back fewer instructional assistants.
Those five teachers would each split their time between two elementary schools, evaluating students and coordinating with their general education teachers in an effort to keep them out of the special education program.
“Obviously our school board members have never been in a special education resource room to see the important role IAs play every day in the lives of our students,” said Jenny Rose, Spokane Education Association president. “We have used the intervention teacher model and it doesn’t work.”
She added, regardless, “you don’t make a model change one month before school starts.”
The executive director of special education will have to determine if they can implement the intervention model, said Mark Anderson, associate superintendent. With recent data about Spokane’s special education graduation rate being as much as 20 percent below the state level, it’s clear to officials “what we are doing (in that program) now isn’t working.”