MNPS to cut 100-plus special-ed jobs as stimulus funds dry up

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 2:31pm

Faced with depleted federal stimulus dollars, Metro Nashville Public Schools plans to cut jobs of more than 100 special education paraprofessionals, or trained aides, the school district announced Tuesday.

“While cutting positions is not easy, we have been very careful to review all students’ needs and we will continue to meet those needs,” said Debbie McAdams, the district’s executive director for Exceptional Education, the division that oversees Metro’s special-needs students.

According to Metro’s central office, the district currently employs 632 paraprofessionals who work with students with special needs or disabilities. School officials maintain that the elimination of the 100-plus positions does not signal a redirection from new employment policies or its focus on inclusive special-ed practices; rather, the federal stimulus dollars that paid for the extra special-needs instructors are no longer available.

MNPS leadership anticipates retirees and employees leaving the district or changing positions will reduce the number of employees directly affected; a final number, however, won’t be known until later this summer.

The district plans to mail letters to affected teachers this week and is also holding a job fair, 11 a.m. June 1 at the central office, in hopes of finding other employment opportunities within the district for teachers losing their jobs.

“We have asked all of our departments to share the openings with similar requirements they will have next year,” said June Keel, the district’s assistant superintendent for Human Resources. “We will place as many affected employees as possible in these positions. Some pay more than their current salary.”

The district’s announcement on special education personnel comes as Mayor Karl Dean continues to make his pitch for a 53-cent property tax increase to bolster a proposed $1.71 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

Dean has said without the property tax increase, the district would have to lay off 200 teachers. Instead, the mayor’s proposed budget allows for the hiring of more than 100 additional teachers, many who would work with students who are classified as English Language Learners.

Apparently, the tax hike would not offset vanishing federal stimulus dollars, which the district first began to use in the 2009-10 school year. Metro schools used the federal funds in a number of areas, including efforts to improve special education and special-needs staffing.

23 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 5/22/12 at 1:00

You are kidding me! The most needy will always get the ax. There are other places to cut, but they are working on getting Dean's tax rate increased passed. This is a way to play pity.

By: Ask01 on 5/23/12 at 3:44

I wonder if our iluustrious Mayor Dean has already identified the police officers to be cut?

This is becoming exciting. Let's see if he will actually go through with the threatened cuts, or if miraculously, the city will discover other ways to trim the budget even further.

Mayor Dean and the council knew this day was coming, yet they pressed forward, bravely ignoring the city's needs, counting on scaring residents into surrendering more money.

I find the predictable nature of politicians amusing.

Every time they feel the need to pick the public pocket, the first items on the chopping block are education and public safety.

Am I the only person who believes if every dime extorted from taxpayers "for the children," and "in the name of public safety" had actually been dedicated solely for the stated purpose, we would have all Rhodes Scholars and zero crime?

I propose we approach the problem from the other direction and begin firing the most highly paid elected and hired metro employees. Those who usually hand out pink slips shoould be the first to suffer, since their ineffective, incompetent, misguided leadership has placed to community in this position.

Show some intestinal fortitude our so called representatives and force Mayor Dean's hand.

I want to see if he will actually follow through and cut his own political throat.

By: spooky24 on 5/23/12 at 5:28

Meanwhile the American tax payer must borrow money at 22% interest from the Chinese government just to pay the interest on the 898 billion dollars borrowed from this same Chinese government for a stimulus package that was political in nature, and when all is said and done, one of the worst financial deals in world history.
The American taxpayer also is on the hook for this secondary loan-to pay the interest on the first-for the entirety of it's existence as no plans are possible to pay off the principal loan due to the downgrading of the nations credit rating.

sp

By: itsmyfirstday on 5/23/12 at 7:04

Nashville are you upset yet? Are you tired of your "leadership" thinking your a idiot? We must voice our opinions, write Debbie McAdams and tell her that if the only way to balance the budget is to cut special education she needs to resign!
You know and I know there are millions in wasted programs and middle management that should be cut way before special education programs.
I just thank God that some how she managed to keep the school bus brake mechanics...for now.

By: fostecs on 5/23/12 at 7:23

In all reality, these 100, in pure economic sense, should never have been hired, or should have known all along that these were temporary positions. The jobs were funded with "one time money". I do not believe that any entity or person should use "one time money", such as a bonus for an individual, as the basis to increase reoccurring obligations. You may take a large bonus and go buy a TV or maybe a car with the cash, but you should not count on that bonus to make your car or mortgage payment. "One time money" is simply that, "one time". Government's use of "one time money" to establish a new baseline of reoccurring spending is not fiscally sound. MNPS has in this case done the fiscally sound thing. Of course, they have probably named this group of workers and the students with which they work in order to promote "public outrage" that we are hurting these "vulnerable students". I believe this is the typical, "It's for the children" ploy for sympathy in order to get more funding.

By: MusicCity615 on 5/23/12 at 7:49

Ask01-

I disagree with your assertion that if no money was cut from schools we would have rhode scholars. More money doesn't always equate to smarter children. What so many people forget to understand is that the most responsibility must come from the children themselves. Nashville could pay for the best teachers to teach kids in classrooms made of gold, but if the kids don't take the responsibility to LEARN, it's money wasted.

Take a look at Washington DC. They have the most money spent per student in the country, yet their school system is one of the worst performing in the country.

Nashville needs more cooperation from the parents, families, etc. to ensure that our children are DEDICATED to education. We do not need more government handouts. I sympathize for those who lost their jobs, but fostecs is right. I hope they understood that "stimulus" money would run out, and that they had a plan B.

By: tdterry1999 on 5/23/12 at 10:56

The Good People of Nashville just keep's on falling for Dean's bs.Wake up Nashville

By: Kelliente on 5/23/12 at 11:51

Let me just clarify that I am by no means a Karl Dean fan. But how is this Dean's fault? You think any politician with a grain of sense wants to be the one held accountable for cutting special education jobs? We got extra money from the Fed to hire some much-needed extra help for special ed classes. Now that money is gone, so we can't keep paying for them. The same people bitching about this are the ones bitching about a property tax increase and complaining about how irresponsible it is to not balance the budget! If you're going to at least try to be fiscally responsible, you have to cut extra work that was paid for with federal funds when that money is no longer available. You can't have it both ways.
Yes, we need more cops. Yes, we need more special education teachers. But if the money isn't there, how are you going to pay for it? By going in debt? Increasing the deficit? I don't think people understand how federal funding and earmarking works. All this just sounds like rabblerabblerabble dey tuk ar jawbs.

By: Jughead on 5/23/12 at 12:02

Karl Marx Dean will say ANYTHING to get the budget passed. Then, he'll go back to Belle Mead and rest in his mansion with his millionaire wife. What a PUKE.

By: suspicious_of__IEPs on 5/23/12 at 12:12

How many programs or teachers for "gifted" students are you cutting?

By: Magnum on 5/23/12 at 2:29

Kelliente, you may not be a Dean fan, but I bet he would love you...

By: Ask01 on 5/23/12 at 7:40

MusicCity615, I realize throwing money at education is pointless if students are not motivated to learn. I wholeheartedly agree. I also believe an additional requirement is parental involvement. I don't mean hovering over children, checking gradespeed several times a day, and pestering teachers. Just showing interest, placing a high priority on education, and praising a job well done can do wonders.

I am aware of the condition of the D.C. school system, and thought about that as I was posting.

I took some liberties while posting to illustrate my point, had every politician who employed education as a trigger issue when seeking tax increases actually put the money into education we could expect better.

Obviously, Rhodes Scholar is a bit of a reach, straining credulity, but certainly the schools would not be in as serious disrepair has all the funding actually been applied where our leaders indicated.

In fact, that school facilities are so decrepit truly casts a bad light on current city leadership that they have allowed such a condition to exist while pursuing other projects and brokering tax breaks for corporations.

Perhaps an investigation should be launched to determine if gross incompetence or outright criminal neglect are to blame and if the situation is indicative of a culture supporting underfunding and neglecting educational facilities.

By the way, great job of throwing up smoke screens to avoid addressing Mayor Dean's proposed tax increase we need so badly as a result of his neglectful actions.

By: Rocket99 on 5/24/12 at 6:31

Ask01, you can not fore an elected official. Only the voters can do that by replacing them with another person when they vote.

This is not s Dean only ploy to get people to buy into a property tax increase. It's been used for DECADES by politicians of every party.

As far as the stimulus money running out, they knew that before they ever spent a penny of it. I'm guessing someone somewhere was hoping the idiots in DC would continue the funding. They can't even decide what brand of toilet paper to use, much less extend federal dollars for local positions.

Considering that property values should be increasing, I can't understand why they want a tax increase. The increased revenues shoud be enough.

If they truely need more money to continue at the same level, it has to come from somewhere. That being said, some funds have specific things they can be spent on. Metro can't do like a private individual and put all the money in a big pot and just pay whatever with it. When you are talking grants and other specific funding sources, if the money is not spent as specified up front, Metro has to return it.

By: Rocket99 on 5/24/12 at 6:32

Also, I am not a Dean or any other politician fan. I'm also opposed to a property tax increase.

By: CPUsername on 5/24/12 at 8:50

I have kids in Special Ed in Metro. Yesterday their school cut one teacher out of three and three out of five classroom aides. Aides who have been there for more than four years were let go; those were not "stimulus" jobs. The plan is for the remaining two teachers and two aides to combine into one room to handle all the kids with special needs who show up in the fall plus all the kids who need a little resource help in one or more academic area. How are two teachers and two aides going to educate potentially thirty plus students ranging from the non-verbal incontinent kids to the aggressive kids in need of behavioral intervention to the "typical" kids who just need a quiet place to recieve some math help? The staff will be hard pressed to keep everyone safe; forget about educating anyone.

By: pswindle on 5/24/12 at 10:23

This has nothing to do with stimules money. This was the goal of Dr. Register, when he worked to do away with unions. The union would never have allowed that many students under the care of two. The union was more than just for the teachers welfare, but they were there mostly for the children. Before unions, Metro had large classroom (42+ students in some grades ), no P.E., shortage of supplies , books, just to name a few things that the unions did for the children. Education along with other departments of government will suffer greatly because of Haslam, Dr. Register and the Legislative Branch. Gov, Bredesen would never allowed TN to go back to the seventies. This government has done so much harm, but the worse is yet to come. Gov. Haslam accomplished several thing in his favor, and that was to protect his family's wealth. But, I'm not sure that TN is ready to listen until we fall completely down and education is the starting point. The Charter schools are here to fail. They cannot offer the variety of courses that Metero can. They would like to cut music, art or other activities that help some students survive.

By: Ask01 on 5/24/12 at 7:36

Rocket99, I am afraid I did not adequately express myself or my point was unclear. I was asking our elected officials to force Mayor Dean's hand on this matter.

A recall election successfully removing our city leadership(?) would make me extremely happy, but I do understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

By: budlight on 5/25/12 at 6:15

MusicCity615 on 5/23/12 at 8:49
Ask01-

I disagree with your assertion that if no money was cut from schools we would have rhode scholars. More money doesn't always equate to smarter children. What so many people forget to understand is that the most responsibility must come from the children themselves. Nashville could pay for the best teachers to teach kids in classrooms made of gold, but if the kids don't take the responsibility to LEARN, it's money wasted.

Take a look at Washington DC. They have the most money spent per student in the country, yet their school system is one of the worst performing in the country.

Nashville needs more cooperation from the parents, families, etc. to ensure that our children are DEDICATED to education. We do not need more government handouts. I sympathize for those who lost their jobs, but fostecs is right. I hope they understood that "stimulus" money would run out, and that they had a plan B.

Music C ity, you are correct. I listened to a Dean snow job speech yesterday in Antioch; he described our city as one of the next BIG BOOM areas, ie, like a boom town in mining. We all know what happens when the boom is over. Isolation, desolation and inflation. He was good; I'll give him that; he almost convinced me. He spoke of the teachers, but never once mentioned it is the responsibility of the parents and students to achieve higher goals.

I believe that he's already made his choices. If 100,000 people showed up at the council meeting with NO tax raise signs, the council and dean would still vote YES and raise our taxes. We will pay in the long run.

By: budlight on 5/25/12 at 6:18

By the way, did you all know that he is the King of Green while his wife is the heir to a coal mining legend? He must be over-doing the green thing because he feels guilty about where his rent money comes from. That makes me laugh.

By: govskeptic on 5/25/12 at 6:55

Pswindle: You are absolutely wrong on this having nothing to do with stimulus
money, but only the Evil Dr. Register! Catch up on the facts.

By: pswindle on 5/26/12 at 11:24

govskeptic,
I have given you the facts. Without unions the administrations can do as they please. In the long run, the kids are the ones to suffer. You need to step out of your red core and look at the truth. I have known people like you, if he is not a GOP idea, it it wrong and I'll fight it to the death. When the Mayor or whomever wants a tax increase, it is always for the children and our safety.

By: justinjones on 5/28/12 at 12:19

Teachers have knowledge and the ability to teach that knowledge. There is huge demand for teaching in, for example, Asia. Many of those teachers in California will start their own e-learning initiatives, for example teaching English to the Chinese. The Internet makes it possible to deliver your knowledge from your home office and save on travel expenses. There really is no need to be physically present!

Yes, consultants and teachers can take advantage of Internet systems to deliver their knowledge overseas or to students nearer to home. Some of these redundant teachers will no doubt start their own companies / consultancies. Further information is available at http://www.jc-j.asia.

By: Methodgen on 5/31/12 at 8:54

I can tell you that I was hired BEFORE the stimulus money was injected into the budget. I LOVED my job and the students that I worked with! I was a Paraprofessional until Monday when I received word that my position was phased out. I know what it takes to run the classroom that I was in and let me tell you this.....with one paraprofessional in the room....learning is the last thing that will happen. It will be about containing behaviors mostly.

There are some Exceptional Education teachers that are not qualified or prepared to deal with having students int he classroom without the extra help. I would even to go as far as to say that there are Paraprofessionals that have a better handle on the classroom that the teacher that has gone to school/in school that is paid to teach that class.

It is easy to sit in an office and pick and choose who should go or stay because ultimately it is not a struggle that you have to deal with. However it is not fair to those who are on the front line of education that are in the trenches DAILY dealing with the uneducated decisions that people tend to make that affect other people. I am saddened greatly by what this Government (Nashville) and the people who live her consider to be important.

Have mistakes been made dealing with money....emphatically with a resounding YES! At this point we need to move on to a solution. Will raising the property tax help, maybe. Still there are cuts that can be made else where I am sure of if people so deem to look for them. To those who do not have an Exceptional Education child...think about this. There will be Exceptional Education students in your child's classroom that will be UNSUPPORTED by those Paraprofessionals that once were with them for inclusion. How much do you think your child is going to learn? How burned out will the General Education teacher become having to deal with behaviors that were once curtailed by another set of hands specifically there to help support that student/classroom?

So when you look at if it is feasible to let things continue the way they are or step up to the plate and change some things....think on those questions. This is not to scare anyone...but it is a reality for some schools and classrooms that will face this very dilemma come August when school starts.