Special ed takes hit with school cuts

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The special education team just got smaller at the Hollister School District.

Hollister School District board members approved a reduction in staff of 14.5 employees Tuesday night. Of those employees, four and a half were special education staff designated full-time equivalent. According to the staff report, the financial impact is a total reduction of $493,000 in unrestricted funds.

District Director of Human Resources Erika Sanchez, who was the speaker on the agenda item, was not immediately available for comment.

The decrease in the number of certificated employees in the special education program was based on recommendations from the Special Education Task Force and Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team study, the staff report stated. Special Education Task Force members include the special education director, special education teachers, site administrators, parents and more.

During the 2013 to 2014 school year, the school board approved a study by the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team of the school district’s special education department, the staff report stated. This was due to the contribution from unrestricted funds to the program being nearly 20 percent over the state average. In May 2014, a final report was completed and given to school district administration.

“In the fall of 2016 current special education leadership established a Special Education Task Force to study the recommendations of the (Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team) report and make recommendations for improved special education program services and revisions to the special education budget,” the staff report stated. “The Special Education Task Force comprised of a variety of stakeholders has completed its study of the (Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team) report, review of research on best special education practices, and observations of other successful special education programs.”

A meeting regarding special needs education cutbacks is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. at the Hollister School District Office, 2690 Cienega Road in Hollister.

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