SPECIAL EDUCATION A BUDGET PRIORITY
June 08, 2001 11:00 pm

To pay for changes in the special education program at Brookings-Harbor school district next year, cuts had to be made in other programs to balance the budget, Superintendent Dr. Paul Prevenas said this week.

With the number of special education students rising, a special education director is a higher priority for us, Prevenas said.

Two language and speech teachers are also being added, he said.

South Coast Educational Service District has been providing the language and speech programs and would be charging for those services next year.

It will cost less to do it on our own, Prevenas said.

To make up for those changes the curriculum directors position is being replaced by a special education director. Each school is also giving up one position.

Approximately five years ago there were about 100 special education children out of a population of 1,800 Brookings-Harbor students, Prevenas said.

We now have nearly 325 with only a 1 or 2 percent increase in the student population, he said.

Its happening nationwide. Public schools are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of special education students, he said.

One reason for the increase may be that schools are doing a better job of identifying children with problems who previously slipped between the cracks, Prevenas said.

With the increase, we have a higher legal and ethical obligation to provide more programs to meet those needs, he said.

Kalmiopsis Elementary School will have one less fourth grade teacher, which means next year it will have five classes instead of six, he said.

At Azalea Middle School the alternative learning program or M.O.S.T. class, which was taught by Joi Gleason, has been canceled. Gleason will teach seventh grade reading next year.

To address the needs of students previously served by the MOST program, Prevenas said hes hoping smaller classes can be structured for math and reading. He hopes enough teachers can be utilized for certain periods of the day to provide more one-on-one remedial instruction time, especially for the seventh and eighth grades.

The behavior needs of those students will be addressed by the school-wide Character Education Program, he said.

Brookings-Harbor High School is giving up its full time School-to-Work coordinator.

Bob Wilson, who ran the program, has been reassigned to a regular teaching position.

Without a coordinator, a teacher will handle some of the School-to-Work program and the counselors will be more involved, Prevenas said.

There are few high schools that have ever had a School-to-Work position in the first place, Prevenas said.

It was an ambitious plan started three years ago, he said.

Prevenas said he would love to keep the programs but, without additional funding from the state, you cant do it.

Public schools just arent getting the funding from Salem to maintain the programs they have, he said.

I understand the concerns of parents. Theyre absolutely right, he said. Weve got to see a net increase in our funding. Its just not there.

We dont have it anywhere near as bad as other schools, he said.

Prevenas said he will absorb some of the duties of curriculum director, while other parts will shift back to the building principals and assistant principals.

Curriculum Director Tim Adsit will be transferred into one of the assistant principal positions if he does not find a job elsewhere, Prevenas said.