ASD's announcement of proposed budget cuts, including the reduction of special education teaching assistants by the equivalent of 49 full time positions, generated reaction from parents and educators Friday.
None of the cuts include teaching positions, but Development Director Patti Saunders of Arc of Anchorage said Friday that, for students with special needs, the assistants are just as necessary to the classroom as teachers. "There's a limit to how much you can stretch a single person's attention," she said.
Saunders stated that the positions of those assistants were originally provided by the school district as part of the federal mandate under the Idea Act, which requires appropriate education for students with disabilities. She added, "If they were required yesterday in order to meet those federal mandates, how is it that they're not necessary today?"
Doug Gray, Principal of Lake Otis Elementary, said Friday that it is very early in the process and he is confident the school will be able to meet the needs of every student. He said the ASD district office works with the schools, analyzing the Individualized Education Plans of special needs students.
Gray said he expects ASD to allocate additional resources as needed to ensure all needs indicated by his students' IEPs will be met.
Monica Christie, the parent of a Lake Otis Elementary School student, expressed disappointment that cuts were made to the school budget at all. "We're all where we are because of our teachers," she said.