Calvert special ed has funding issues

The need for more special education teaching specialists and the lack of funds to pay for them poses a big obstacle for Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS), a school administrator reported last week.

The school system’s Director of the Department of Special Education, Christina Harris, presented the department’s staffing plan for the next school year to the Calvert County Board of Education (BOE) Thursday, April 10. Harris stated the plan “is to provide guidance to the superintendent and to the Board of Education in determining the number of special education teachers and related services providers needed annually to implement the individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities.”

Harris explained that CCPS uses a “hybrid census staffing model to determine its special education staffing.” Maryland school systems are charged by state law to develop a staffing plan to ensure it can provide a “free and appropriate public education (FAPE)” to each student with a disability in the least restrictive environment.

The current workload for Calvert’s special education teachers, Harris indicated, is quite daunting and requires additional time. The tasks include writing IEPs using the statewide IEPs, preparing for, attending and presenting information at IEP meetings; evaluating students for determination of a disability, reevaluating students, scoring assessments, writing assessment reports, consulting and planning with general education staff, and completing quarterly progress reports in addition to report cards.

Harris reported some of the teachers are getting “burned out” and last year CCPS lost over 20 special education teachers. That group included eight retirements, three resignations and several transfers to general education.

Harris said hiring more teacher specialists would help, “but it’s a funding problem. I’m hoping our commissioners will recognize the situation we’re in.” Harris stated that CCPS “has a lot of students with special needs. We really don’t have sufficient resources.”

A major challenge cited by Harris is Calvert’s need to close its achievement gap between general education students and those with special needs. “We need to start doing something,” said Harris, who indicated Calvert is not as strong in teacher support as other state jurisdictions are.

The system’s Special Education Department administrative staff evaluates the plan. According to Harris’ report, the staffing plan is monitored by the number of Maryland State Department of Education complaints filed, and the number of requests for mediation/due process hearings directly and results of meetings with principals and other special education staff.

The staffing plan presented to the BOE was monitored by CCPS’ Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee. The plan will be posted on the CCPS’ web site for public review prior to the BOE considers it for approval.

The CCPS’ web site may be accessed at www.calvertnet.k12.md.us

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

Speak Your Mind