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Friday, March 13, 2009

Education News Roundup

Here are links to assorted stories about education in Washington State.

  • The first article is from the PI about the state Senate passing a bill to free schools from unfunded mandates. This, of course, could be a mixed bag because some of the cuts, like for hearing and vision, could hurt low-income kids. The upside is more local control which many favor.
  • The second article, which appeared in the Times and seemed to slip under the radar, states that the appeal to the Washington State Appeals court by several districts around the state over Special Ed funding failed.
"The Washington Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision that the state is not shortchanging school districts by more than $100 million a year for special education."
  • The third article, also about Special Ed, is changing the WASL for Special Ed students. From the article:

"Senate Bill 5414 proposes a number of WASL changes and makes one mention of special education students, urging the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to review the special education assessment and the appeals process.

The bill has passed the Senate and is expected to start moving through the House.

State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn already is convening a special needs advisory committee to figure out what can be done to change the state assessment system while still complying with the federal No Child Left Behind law, said Chris Barron, assessment communications manager for the superintendent's office.

6 comments:

ParentofThree said...

Related:

KPLU announced this morning that there are 144 SSD layoffs, including one director in the super's office. The had to go through freedom of information process to get the info from the district. So they have a comprehensive list of layoffs.

It is not on their web site yet.

ParentofThree said...

It (meaning the story) is not on the KPLU web site.

sorry I wasn't clear on that.

another mom said...

Keep in mind that some of those laid off will remain employed by SPS. Any staff protected by union contracts will have the opportunity to accept open positions for which they are qualified. So the actual savings from reductions in central staff are not yet known.

AutismMom said...

It's good to have another nail in the coffin of the sped funding lawsuit case. The decision is completely appropriate in my view.

The Washington State Special Education Coalition (WSSEC) strongly supported the state in opposing the districts' lawsuit for changing the special education funding formulas. SPS didn't join the other districts, but supported them. Not surprisingly, all the districts suing the state... are the ones with the worst histories of service to special education students... Everett, Issaquah, Shoreline... etc.

And while we always hear about the "worst case" cost scenarios, the fact is... most students are not the worst case. More than 60% have no cognitive impairment at all. More than 25% receive therapy only, eg 1/2 hour of speech therapy a week. But no matter what the disability, no matter how mildly affected, school districts still receive 2X the money in excess costs for each and every student with an IEP. The districts are supposed to spread that extra funding around according to the individual needs of their actual students. We hear about a few kids who costs tens of thousands in sped funding... but we never hear about the great number of "therapy" kids, bringing in an extra $4,000 a-piece but using very little extra.

Here is the text of the decision. It turns out, the suing districts have been trying to fund special education with "excess" funding alone. But under the law, the students are entitled to the BEA (basic education allocation) as well as the "excess funding".

Directly from Judge McPhee: "Plaintiffs have not accounted for all the revenue available to pay the cost of educating special education students.[] When a special education student moves out of the basic education classroom, by law the BEA follows that student and is applied to special education costs. The [plaintiffs did] not prove that school districts expend all BEA for special education students in the basic education classrooms."

speducator said...

I have nine severely developmentally disabled students in my classroom. When I've asked for curriculum or subs for training opportunities, I'm always told "there's no money."

All nine of my students receive gen ed funding and special ed funding. In addition, six out of the nine receive ESL (ELL) funds.

In speaking with other teachers at my school, they strongly suspect that the principal has redirected sped and ESL funds for pet projects.

When I asked questions two years ago about the budget, I was pressured to mind my own business. Then I called downtown to the budget office. The person in charge of our school budget refused to answer any of my questions, and emailed my principal that I had been asking about budget.

One of the problems highlighted in the Special Education Review, was the lack of oversight of principals in the implementation of special ed moneys.

I have a couple of students with aggressive and violent behavior who could use a one on one assistant. Even with good data to justify it, you need an act of Congress to get extra staffing. We are always told "there's no money."

Of course, when there's a lawsuit, the money magically appears. It will be very interesting to see what happens to sped staffing levels next year.

Another trick the District uses is to eliminate a position and make it public, only to create another position for the same person the following year with a different title. Sort of a District shell game.

AutismMom said...

Interesting point about the "no subs". I point blank told my principal I expected a sub to be provided when the staff was absent. For at least a year, even for long scheduled absences, no subs had been provided. After the request/complaint, including the details of the need, the "sub service" was provided. Perhaps parents need to make the request instead of teachers... (and perhaps parents can be nudged in that direction).