Granite District's Board of Education has accepted two reworked proposals to deal with budget cuts in the areas of special education and library/media centers.
Outcries last month about the district's proposals to make significant cuts in both programs resulted in efforts to mitigate the effects on both students and personnel.The revamped budgets included these changes:
Special education: The district had proposed reducing the number of "cluster units" serving children with particular handicaps, keeping these children in their own schools to receive services there. The district backed away from that proposal when faced with strong parent objections.
Instead, budget cuts will be made in virtually every program category, said Joyce Barnes, who heads the district's special-education program. The savings will amount to about $1 million. However, this approach will find classes already full when school starts, with no room to accept new children whose handicaps are diagnosed during the school year. They will have to be served in their own schools, she said. Usually, the district has started the school year with classes only three-quarters full to allow for expansion.
A number of staff members will be transferred to other jobs in the district and two coordinators now on leave may not return, she said. Five adaptive physical education specialists became surplus, and two teachers and two contract assistants for intellectually handicapped students were eliminated. One aide will be dropped from each class for severely intellectually handicapped students. Some teachers will serve two schools rather than one. One learning-disabilities class will be dropped and three elementary classes for behaviorally handicapped students will close, along with two in junior high schools. Clerical assistants in cluster schools will be dropped.
The district also must deal with a current shortfall of approximately $781,000, Barnes said. Proposals include asking the State Office of Education to give Granite its estimated $300,000 share of the Utah Learning Resource Center money and letting the district do its own inservice projects and asking the state office to provide a $500,000 grant to cover the shortfall that occurs because the state funds special education based on the past year, not the current year.
As a last resort, four psychologists and four social workers would be dropped from special education and given other assignments in the district, Barnes said, "with great reluctance." A committee is being formed to look at long-term options. Barnes and others involved in special education also are trying to convince federal and state governments to increase special-education funding. The original proposal was for the federal government to provide 40 percent of special-education costs, but the current level of funding is only 7 percent, she said.
Library/media center services: The original budget proposal would have assigned one certified library/media specialist to five elementary schools rather than two.
The proposal accepted Tuesday will reduce library/media specialists by just over six full-time equivalents and will make cuts in other program areas instead.
Sharyl Smith, district specialist, reported the proposals of a seven-member committee. Their suggestions included restructuring the distribution of professional staff among the schools so that most schools will have service reduced by a small amount. Aides will be used to support the professional staff. Total savings in salaries and wages will be $273,136, Smith said.
In addition, the audio/visual materials budget will be reduced by two-thirds for a savings of $65,135 and the rebinding budget will be eliminated to save $24,955 - a total of $90,090 savings in library materials. The overall budget reduction is $362,226.