By Matt Fritz
LA PORTE — While the La Porte Community Schools corporation may not have cut any jobs itself to make up for $1.66 million state funding loss, the special education cooperative that services five districts in the county, including La Porte, did.
The South La Porte County Special Education Cooperative, which covers schools in the La Porte Community, New Prairie, South Central, Westville and La Porte County school districts, has had to make job cuts across the board to meet the needs of the areas it serves.
The reductions included the loss of one teacher in New Prairie and La Porte, 10 paraprofessionals throughout the cooperative, two speech language assistants and one intern. It would also be reducing a preschool teacher’s hours by half, and an autism consultant’s and psychologist’s hours by 40 percent each. In addition, a diagnostician is retiring and the position will not be filled.
Director of Special Education for the Cooperative Paula Nichols said the cuts were made in an attempt to meet a 10 percent budget decrease requested by the cooperative’s advisory board, which is composed of representatives from all its service areas.
“I think we all have to do what we need to do to answer what they’ve asked us to do,” she said. “We had to all come up with reductions in the budget while still meeting the needs of our students with special need. We all have to step up.”
This saved the districts a total of $482.25 for the 2010-11 school year, which came down to $267,466 for La Porte Community, $117,839 for New Prairie, $34,383 for South Central, $37,416 for Westville and $24,919 for La Porte County school districts. (IDEA Money Watch comment: by our calculation, this adds up to $482, 023 in total savings, not $482.25!)
“It’s never easy,” she said about the cuts. “It’s been a difficult process. We have wonderful employees. They are great people and they’ve done a wonderful job.”