The Lindenhurst School District on Monday night announced plans to eliminate as many as 100 special education aides from next year’s budget.
The decision brought out dozens of aides and their supporters, who wore blue shirts to show solidarity in protest over the decision.
At the meeting, district officials announced a change in elementary special education services, moving from an inclusion model to an integrated co-teaching model. As part of this change, the district is looking to eliminate redundancy in special education aides, eliminating 65 to 100 aides at a cost savings of $845,000 to $1.3 million. The district will still adhere to aide assignments in a child’s Individualized Education Program, said Superintendent Richard Nathan.
Nathan said there are 204 special education aides employed by the district, a “tremendous number” that is “out of proportion” to student needs.
“These kids are our lives,” one special education aide told officials as the audience cheered. “And if you take us away from these children, that is a greater harm.”
The district is looking to add three special education teachers as well as other personnel, the costs of which could significantly lessen the savings from the aides, said district spokeswoman Carol Hauser.
More than $600,000 in savings from aide reduction has already been applied to the budget, she said. The reduction lowered the tax levy increase for the $146.9 million budget from 4.14 percent to 3.46 percent, she said. That percentage, which officials said is slightly below the district’s state tax cap, may be lowered further before the budget is finalized, she said. This year’s $141.7 million budget had a tax levy increase of 2.45 percent.
The school board plans to complete next year’s budget on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the McKenna Administration Building.