Some HISD teaching jobs eliminated

July 26, 2010 4:22:30 PM PDT
HISD is cutting close to 100 special education jobs and those employees were just notified, with only weeks to go before the start of the new school year. For HISD special education teacher Holly Spratlin, and about 100 other HISD special education employees, it was devastating news.

Andy Dewey with the Houston Federation of Teachers said, "We're going to see fewer services delivered to special ed students, because the remaining special ed teachers are going to have to carry larger loads."

The district sites declining enrollment down in the past five years from 21,000 to 16,500 with no corresponding change in staffing.

Sowmya Kumar with HISD Special Education said, "If anything we have gone up in staffing, so it was necessary for the district to really take a look at this."

But with school literally weeks away, some are saying, why now?

"If we would have been notified in April or May, I would have had time to try to find a job at the end of the school year," Spratlin said. "I wouldn't be at this last minute, going, 'Oh my gosh, I have less than two weeks before I have to find another position.'"

"The way we're looking at this is to give everyone a whole year to find employment within the district," Kumar explained.

There is also the issue of money. The teachers' union doesn't see the sense in eliminating positions when it says TEA reports show tens of millions of dollars federal funding that's going unused.

"If anything, they should be expanding services in special ed," Dewey said. "As a father of student who is in HISD special ed, I know there is always more services, either through direct instruction from teachers or through different types of accommodations, they're expensive."

"There is no excess money," Kumar said. "Every penny is going to be accounted for for 2010 -2011."

HISD is looking into those claims from the union that there are millions in federal dollars going unused for special education that could be used in the Houston area. They believe there might be a delay in updating the TEA report that is dated from earlier this summer.


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