Intervention specialists are teachers who supplement classroom education to ensure the academic success of children who otherwise might fail and eventually drop out, by giving them additional attention, planning and instruction.
“Principals have told us many times they would like to see the intervention specialists back,” said Mayo. “A large number of our kids are in poverty and in need of these support systems.”
Fifteen of the restored intervention specialists will work in elementary schools. The other three will work in Trexler, Raub and Harrison-Morton middles schools, according to Mayo, who said South Mountain already has a funded intervention specialist.
English as a second language
Pushing the school board to restore more “English as a second language” teachers, Jackson said 69 percent of the district’s students are Latino.
Said Mayo: “We believe we have the staff to address the needs of those students.
Can we use more staff? We can use more staff across this whole district. We try to have the greatest impact we possibly can.”
After doing some research during the meeting, administrators determined 18.5 “English as a second language positions” are being eliminated.
Mayo said the 18.5 teaching positions were cut based on anticipated drops in enrollment.
The superintendent added the district would not reduce “ESL” staff below levels required by the state Department of Education.
Gerlach’s made a motion to restore 10 “English as a second language” teachers at the elementary level. It failed by a 6-3 vote. Only Jackson and Julie Ambrose voted with her.
Then Jackson immediately made a motion to restore five of those elementary teachers. That motion passed 5-4. Voting with her were Gerlach, Ambrose, Smith and Dr. Ellen Bishop.
Restoring more teachers changed the figures proposed by the administration. It raised the amount of the state supplement earmarked to restore staff from $1.6 million to $2 million and reduced the amount earmarked to reduce the deficit from $4.6 million to $4.2 million.
Director of special projects
Mayo said duties of the special projects director include monitoring compliance as well as district-wide comprehensive planning and objectives. Gerlach was not in favor of funding that position, because it will have no direct beneficial impact on students.
Ambrose made a motion to eliminate that position. Her motion failed 6-3. Voting with her were Gerlach and Jackson.
Jackson later made a motion to make the special projects director a half-time position, rather than full-time. Her motion failed 7-2. Only Gerlach voted with her.
Mayo said it is not a part-time position, because of the amount of work involved.
Bleak future for ASD?
“As far as we know, this is one-time money,” said Mayo of the $8.2 million from the state.
Even with that extra state money, the district is using $5.8 million from its fund balance for the 2013-14 budget explained Dr. John R. Clark, ASD’s chief financial officer.
Clark said that will leave ASD with $9.2 million in its fund balance.
Clark told the board that even if the district again gets $8.2 million from the state next year, “we are not carrying forth enough fund balance to be in the black next year. We’re almost $5 million short.” He said that is an amount “beyond tax increases,” adding ASD will have to rely on even more money from the state or make additional cuts as early as the 2014-15 school year.
At the start of the meeting, Smith said it was called because of “an overflow of funds we were lucky to get from the state.” He said they are extra funds ASD “did not anticipate, but [is] so glad we got.”
But Alan Tjeltveit, who introduced himself as a taxpayer, parent and educator, told the board the $8.2 million really is not a windfall, but a reduction in under-funding of the school district by the state. “We were under-funded by $60-70 million, now it’s only by $50-60 million.”