Budget Committee decides nothing

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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Dennis King » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:57 pm


Dennis - if you read closely, they want to replace 200 paras with 100 full time certified teachers - with their cadillac benefits (your words, not mine). Do you support that?[/quote]

Yes to the first part, no to the second. The mayor is trying to stand up to the unions but why offer to replace any of the para's.

The answer is to group kids according to their abilities (ie tracking) so the smart kids excel, the average kids are not burdened with the extra homework that they probably would not want to do anyway, and the special needs kids get grouped in smaller classes with a curriculum prepared just for them.

I was a special ed teacher, we did not have any para's but we did have small class sizes (max was 12) and most classes had a student volunteer who could provide some one on one when needed and if there was an outburst, take the student to the principal who would deal with it, imagine that happening in public school!

Of course, this was a private school but even back then, we were charging a third of the public school for a much better education. Every year we had to turn parents away because the demand was bigger than the space we had. The school moved twice, each time to a bigger place. I loved my class which included an autistic child, a boy with childhood schizophrenia, two hyperactive boys (Barsh's motogenics was big back then along with the Feingold diet, a hydro cephalic girl, an two abused boys, one was starved locked in a closet and would go to the garbage cans and take out the apple cores and eat them. Another was this handsome black boy who was burned over 80 percent of his body (except his face). Lastly, there was Larry, a visually impaired boy with leukaemia. He had one wart on his chin but when he came back from chemo, his whole face was covered in warts. Funny though, none of the other kids teased him. You see, they all had issues and we taught them to love and learn from each other and each was special. At Larry's insistence, I did an "intervention" with his parents. He knew he was dying and his parents were in denial. Very brace kid, he died at age 10.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Tue Feb 08, 2011 4:41 pm

Ken

Unless you have been very involved with that student, you can not evaluate what their needs are. For example, do you know without an aid they would be fine 100% of the time? Do you know that they do not have other underlying medical problems (not all, but many Down Syndrome students do!). Do you know that this student is never hurtful to others or themselves? Or other issues? Also in addition, ANY in district placement is ALWAYS cheaper than placement in a special school, even if they have a full time aid. Unless you are a doctor or trained professional you can not possibly make this type of judgment call.

I know this from personal experience.


I know this too. I live with it everyday like you do.

The biggest gripe I have is if they are so disruptive and require constant attention, is it really wise to spend all of this money on one child just so they can be "mainstreamed"? Nothing but feel good and really not helpful to the child.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Ken Coleman » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:46 pm

Jeannine,

Sometimes mainstreaming may not be the best environment (Although most of the time is it); however it is almost always cheaper than either separate classrooms or outplacement. Because of this when a student is not mainstreamed it should be because that is not the best educational environment for them, not ever to save money.

In the past I have served as a volunteer advocate for special needs parents (Never in that role in Merrimack, but at other NH schools). In many of these cases the school district was fighting to keep the student mainstreamed within the public school and it was always because it was less expensive. The parents (who I was helping) wanted more specialized services because their children has needs that could not be met in a public school setting.

Most students who require one on one aids would need them regardless of the setting.

Getting rid of mainstreaming (today’s proper term inclusion) within a school district drives the cost up not down.


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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby andysinnh » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:56 pm

Dennis King wrote:
andysinnh wrote:
Here is the link:
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx ... bfb1bcc8e9
Dennis - if you read closely, they want to replace 200 paras with 100 full time certified teachers - with their cadillac benefits (your words, not mine). Do you support that?


Yes to the first part, no to the second. The mayor is trying to stand up to the unions but why offer to replace any of the para's.

The answer is to group kids according to their abilities (ie tracking) so the smart kids excel, the average kids are not burdened with the extra homework that they probably would not want to do anyway, and the special needs kids get grouped in smaller classes with a curriculum prepared just for them.

Dennis - you're correct in that the current proposal is "take the healthcare concessions or we cut 200 paras", but in a previous meeting, he spoke of replacing the 200 paras with 100 teachers. the wording in the article doesn't discuss any "grouping" per abilities beyond what they already do in middle school - which requires para support. Specifically:
Assistant Superintendent Karen Burkush said that while the situation is not ideal, certified teachers can be more efficient than paraprofessionals because teachers write lesson plans that paraprofessionals cannot. Committee members Arthur Beaudry and Steve Dolman questioned whether cutting the many staffers would allow schools to give students needed extra help, especially in the middle schools, which just implemented classroom grouping by academic ability.

Earlier in the article, Gatsas says:
"If we reduced the paraprofessionals and got concessions in benefits, we can bring on 100 teachers. We can't do both," said Gatsas.

Will be interesting to see what happens.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:35 pm

I have lots of confidence in Mayor Gatsas. I've known him since high school. If anyone can make the needed changes in Manchester - he can.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby JMac1000 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:06 pm

I am not interested in getting into a debate over the school budget. There are really good, well meaning people that serve on the budget committee. All that aside, if the budget committee "decides nothing" as the Thread is titled, then why have a budget committee? Year after year I see the budget committee take up hours of time from School officials, and prior to that Municipal officials. Year after year they rubber stamp the proposed budgets with zero changes. Where is the innovation? Is the committee suggesting there is nothing these ten plus members can propose to make change to the budget? I can see one year of this. However, its year after year. If you are reviewing the budget, after weeks of budget review, and can make or suggest no changes whatsoever, what value do you bring???? I feel terrible writing this, as I think very highly of many of these members. I just see no value in the Budget Committee.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby RBarnes » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:39 am

Dennis and Andy, also from the UL article:

"127 paraprofessionals in the district who work directly with students through special education mandates"

So legally they may not be able to cut them all or at least not be able to cut them without some kind of replacement.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:35 pm

Manchester has 127 paraprofessionals while we have 59? Manchester has three times the student population we have. Anybody else see the problem?

Jamie

I can see one year of this. However, its year after year. If you are reviewing the budget, after weeks of budget review, and can make or suggest no changes whatsoever, what value do you bring???? I feel terrible writing this, as I think very highly of many of these members. I just see no value in the Budget Committee.


You said it better than I did, but my intent was the same as yours. It is frustrating to see the same old thing, year after year. Either have more input early on in the budget process or let's hire an accountant for a month and not bother with a BudCom.
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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:36 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:Manchester has 127 paraprofessionals while we have 59? Manchester has three times the student population we have. Anybody else see the problem?

I have no idea how many paraprofessionals Merrimack has but from reading the article in question I got the impression Manchester has 327 paraprofessionals, 127 of which are required by law due to special education requirements and 200 of which are for general educational needs and might be cut.

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Re: Budget Committee decides nothing

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:56 pm

Well if that's the case how many of the paraprofessionals in Merrimack aren't slated for Special Ed needs? Does anyone know?

It's very difficult to find out specifics.
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