The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 Board approves new post, expenditures
By Seth Hancock
Taxpayers in School District U-46 could pay, in theory, for one full-time employee per student in a classroom based on Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
A discussion on IEP practices was had at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Jan. 14 during a personnel report and workers’ compensation cases vote. The board approved the report 6-0, board member Phil Costello was absent.
Board member Jeanette Ward has voted against the report previously when it included new positions as she’s opposed the district’s continued spending increases with added staff when student enrollment has been declining. The Fiscal Year 2019 budget hiked spending by $40.2 million including 54 new positions despite enrollment declining for the fourth straight year, a trend the district expects to see for the foreseeable future.
This report did include a new full-time position, but not one of the 54 new positions but rather a Paraeducator Cross Category Special Education position for a kindergarten student’s IEP.
Prior to the meeting, Ward asked for an explanation on the new position which the district replied via memo that the position “was requested to support an incoming kindergarten student who requires constant supervision and redirection in order to maintain attention, follow directions and minimize disruptions.”
At the meeting, Ward asked: “Were there not any other teachers and/or paraeducators available that could have fulfilled that child’s IEP?”
“No, when a[n] individual student plan calls for them to have a one-on-one aid then we have to post that position and hire that position,” said U-46 CEO Tony Sanders.
Ward asked if every student in a classroom required a one-on-one under an IEP “there’d be 30 paraeducators in the classroom?”
Sanders said “yes” which Ward responded: “Wow, ok.”
“But it’s rare. That has not happened very often,” Sanders said.
Board member Veronica Noland said she’s “make a comment that as a parent of a child with a[n] IEP who has a one-to-one, I will tell you it is extremely difficult…. You go through many, many, many steps and many hoops before you get to a one-to-one.”
“It means that there is no other effort, usually, typically,” Noland claimed and added: “You would never see a classroom with you know 25 kids and 25 one-to-ones, but by law if they all had that in their IEP then they would have that.”
Ward asked if there was a consideration taken to delay kindergarten because the student may not be ready “if they require a one-to-one and constant supervision. Would that be part of our policy to consider that?”
“No, that would not be part of our policy,” Sanders said who later said “that would not be appropriate.”
“I’m going to follow up just because it could be a consideration that the parents bring forth in that team meeting,” Noland said. “The school has to educate the child that presents themselves to us.”
Board member Melissa Owens said: “To do so would be a complete abdication of the free and appropriate education we’re required to provide education if a child is presented to us.”
Ward asked if this position was full-time to which Sanders said: “Yes. Full-time, but I don’t know how many hours.”
Also approved by 6-0 votes were three expenditure items totaling $753,708 as well as $14.8 million in itemized bills.
The expenditure items included a proposal with Anderson Lock Company, Ltd. ($382,000; operations and maintenance fund) for the installation of lockdown hardware equipment at Larkin High School and the Dream Academy, a proposal with Northwest Contractors ($316,388; operations and maintenance fund) to renovate an elevator at the Education Services Center and a proposal with PCM Sales ($55,320; education fund) for 1,200 Advanced Placement Spanish language and culture test recorders.