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Board hears support for special ed

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Funding reductions threaten staff in Carroll County schools

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Protect funding for special education programs in Carroll, two supporters asked at the school division's first public hearing for the 2011-2012 budget process.
Angela Dixon of Galax, the parent of a special needs child, appeared before the Carroll School Board at its Feb. 8 meeting and said the schools have an excellent program with a wonderful staff.
Her son has done well and developed thanks to the efforts of the special education program in the schools, and she asked the school board to keep the program at its current funding level.
"We ask that the special ed staff not be reduced or cut to ensure the special ed program is successful," she said. "That's what I want to say to you all... that we keep it the way that it is, because it's a good thing."
Citizen Max Dean sent a letter, asking for continued support for special education, which Chairman Franklin Jett read parts of out loud at the meeting.
"As chair of the Carroll County Special Education Advisory Council, I offer the following comments in support of not cutting staff positions or funding from the Carroll County School System's Special Education Department," Dean wrote.
Since the 2008-2009 school year, 11 staff from the department have not been replaced after they retired or left the school system, the letter said.
Five special education teachers are being paid out of federal stimulus funds that will not be available for the 2011-2012 school year, as Dean understands it.
Dean wrote that he fears that if personnel are further reduced, the department will not be able to fully implement the Individual Education Plans for the students.
At the same time, it appears that funding for two behavioral aides from the Comprehensive Services Act won't be available, either.
"And not only is the department operating with 11 less staff than 2008-09, they have also lost one support staff, a secretary at central office, who spends the majority of her time supporting the special education department, which has led special education staff to find creative ways to obtain copying services, preparing for training sessions, mailing information to parents," the letter said.
Dean understood there are tough funding choices to be made this year.
"As you review the budgetary requirements of the Carroll County education system, I feel that when you closely examine special needs children's requirements in relation to their education and the reductions in staff that the department has already sustained the past couple of years, you will quickly come to the conclusion that these children are the ones who can least afford to have further reduction of educator or staff in their classrooms," the letter concluded.