Just shy of two months ago, I posted my findings concerning the reductions in the Huntsville City Schools budget for Special Education. Using numbers provided to me by Mr. Frank Spinelli, CSFO, and Mr. Rob Terry, I found that the Special Education budget for FY2011 was $27,588,027.27. This budget for FY2012 has been reduced to $20,414,163.53, or a difference of $7,173,863.74.
For nearly the past three months I have been asking for a justification of this reduction in funding for our neediest kids. Perhaps tonight Mr. Aaron King will finally provide that justification.
When I asked Dr. Robinson about this reduction at the September 29th board meeting, she offered a couple of justifications:
- The seven million dollar reduction represents the “difference between budgeted numbers and actual expenses.” As I pointed out on October 2nd, even if she is correct, the difference between what was actually spent and a planned budget is still $7 million dollars, which is 61 percent of the total cuts made system wide.
- She also made her claim that she knows that the system is meeting IEPs because the system is not being sued.
Hopefully, Mr. King will come up with something a little better than that tonight. (By the way, why is it that Mr. King is making this presentation? Why isn’t this presentation being made by Mr. Spinelli as CSFO, or Dr. Cooper as Deputy Superintendent for Instruction since she is directly responsible for Special Education, or perhaps even Dr. Wardynski himself? I suspect this is because they want to communicate to the board that there’s little to no need to ask questions about his presentation.
I also doubt that he will be willing to offer any justification for why Special Education is being asked to carry more of the cuts than any other group in the system despite state code section 16-39-3 requiring that the cuts made to special education be prorated “on a per capita basis between exceptional and nonexceptional children.” Perhaps Mr. Brooks will be willing to offer an interpretation of this code that justifies placing 61 percent of the cuts on special education.
Despite Dr. Robinson’s claims to the contrary, the school system is not meeting the requirements of the IEPs. At Challenger Elementary alone, the entire school went for two months without a single Occupational Therapy session when the previous OT resigned after about a month of school. The OT that was hired to replace the first one resigned after just a single day. Additionally, the entire school has been without a Speech Therapist for the past two weeks when our superb ST resigned because she was being overworked and underpaid.
When I asked where the extra $1.9 million dollars was coming from to pay for the recruitment, selection and professional development of the TFA’ers, honestly, I think I already know. It came out of the $7 million that was cut from the Special Education budget from FY2011 to FY2012.
It will be interesting to see how Mr. King justifies this.