Teacher Layoffs Hit Special Education

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email
The Lansing School District once again finds itself with a big budget deficit that needs to be cut, and this time around teacher positions are on the chopping block. Nearly half of the proposed 25 layoffs will be in the special education department.
 	News 10

Staff Photo: Michelle Floyd
Science teacher Derek Kreider and his new high school students have enjoyed the new classrooms at Peachtree Academy. In the science department, students have desks, lab space and cabinetry to conduct classroom experiments.

The Lansing School District has proposed shaving off 14 percent of the special education teachers who take children for a few hours outside their classroom. They provide daily individual instruction special needs students and their families depend on.

"We didn't know what the problem was. There were times where they said he might be autistic," said Nicole Armbruster, a Lewton Elementary school parent.

Armbruster says her son Bobby could only say ten words at the age of 3 because of a speech disability.

"I didn't know how to say it so then I just can't say it. Then I don't get what I want sometimes," said Bobby Armbruster, a special needs kindergartener.

Bobby started speaking after a year of school in daily special education classes.

" Right around his fourth birthday, he made a break through and words came pouring out. We were like 'Oh my God,'" said Armbruster.

In special education classes, Bobby is taugh how to make connections and learn in his own way. With new cuts coming, his mom worries he and other students won't get the attention they need.

"Half the battle is creating relationships where students are trusing enough to ask for help. If you eliminate the one on one, you won't have the same kind of relationships," said Armbruster.

School administrators said special education is a departement that can afford to be cut.

"The youngsters will continue to receive these services but we will be minus 11 staff. So that will not disrupt our program," said superintendent T.C. Wallace of the Lansing School District.

But administrators say class sizes and teacher case loads will grow. Changes parents say is sure to have a negative impact.

"You can't say cutting 11 positions isn't gong to change anything. you can't say cutting calss sizes isn't going to change anything. You can't say making cuts on the most vulnerable population in the district are not going to have an impact," said Armbruster.

The Lansing School Board says it regrets having to make any cuts and is trying to keep the impact as far away from the classroom as possible.

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