News / Utah / 

Jordan special-ed department lays off 69 teaching aides

Posted - May 25, 2010 at 1:47 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE COUNTY -- The Jordan School District's special education department will lay off close to 90 teachers and assistants in order to close a $6.5 million budget gap.

That means prior to the 2010-11 school year, 19 full-time teaching positions will be eliminated -- about half to attrition like retirement or a change in position -- and 69 full-time aide positions will be cut and replaced with 34 part-time positions.

Jordan School District Special-Education Budget Cuts
  • 19 full-time teaching positions eliminated
  • 69 full-time aide positions replaced with 34 part-time positions
  • 9 district staff positions eliminated

The department's administrative staff also is being cut from 18 positions to nine.

"This is a dramatic cut, it's definitely a difficult cut," said Jordan School District spokesman Steve Dunham.

The district's special education budget is funded solely by state and federal monies. So when the district split with the Canyons this past year, it lost about 40 percent of its special education students -- and the per student funding that went with them.

"When the district split, we did lose about 41 percent of students and staff, but we carried over some very expensive programs and some very significant costs," said Beth Usui, director of special education in the Jordan School District.


The district's special education budget is funded solely by state and federal monies. So when the district split with the Canyons this past year, it lost about 40 percent of its special education students -- and the per student funding that went with them.

About $5 million of the budget hole is due to the district split. The rest is caused by an increase in retirement costs. Jordan's special education budget is separate from the district's general fund, which faces a $17.5 million shortfall.

Dunham says the special education department knew it would eventually need to reduce its size to work within the budget once the split was in place.

"When you resize and you have to work within your new size as the school district, it's something that has to be made so that you can work within your budget," he said.

Dunham says the special education department has been preparing for this cut during this past year, especially after seeing how much smaller class sizes became after the split. He says the district will consolidate many of those classes, both in the neighborhood "cluster" programs and its three specialized schools.

Related:

"They were hard decisions, they were emotional decisions and I want to assure families and students that we have every intention of meeting their student needs," Usui told KSL Newsradio Tuesday.

Dunham says he understands parents may be upset by making the classes larger, but he says the child's education will not suffer.

"As we consolidate classes, it will just bring us back up to what we've been used to in previous years," Dunham said. "So we shouldn't see a diminished service to the child in the classroom. It will be the same education they have received from Jordan School District in the past."

"We absolutely are committed to meeting student needs," Usui said. "We have a responsibility to provide kids with a free, appropriate education, and we will do that."

Whether or not any of the students will have to actually move schools due to consolidating is unknown at this time. The district is still in the process of working out all the details.

------

Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park, Andrew Adams and the Associated Press.

Related Stories

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast