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Valley View Proposes Cutting 110 Teacher's Aides

Valley View School District 365U officials want to replace teacher's aides with certified teachers in both reading and supported ed instruction.

About 140 reading and support ed instructional teaching aides would be dismissed from Valley View School District 365U under a proposal announced at Monday's board meeting.

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About 30 of these paraprofessionals would be recalled back to work, according to Sharon Hawks, executive director of human resources, resulting in about 110 employees losing their jobs. These dismissals would be effective for the 2013-2014 school year.

The district would then hire certified teachers to replace the aides, a move "overwhelmingly" recommended by Valley View principals, Superintendent James Mitchem said.  

District documents show about a 2:1 ratio of teacher's aides dismissed to certified teachers hired. 

Valley View officials said reading teachers, who must complete at least 24 hours of specific reading training, produced a better rate of student growth than reading paraprofessionals. 

"The model that used teachers in lieu of aides had a significant impact on student outcomes," Mitchem said. 

Cutting teacher aides "has nothing to do with cost-cutting or reducing," Hawks said. "It's what we feel is best for the students." 

Reading (elementary schools only)

In the past, each elementary school was given the option to have two reading teachers and four reading paraprofessionals, or teacher's aides. Schools were also given the option of having another reading teacher in place of two reading paraprofessionals. 

Now, the district wants to cut the 32 reading paraprofessional positions and add 16 reading teacher positions. 

Reading teacher vs. reading paraprofessional 

Paraprofessionals are considered "classified staff." Those who hold this position are required to have 60 hours of college credit in any subject and pass an exam. 

Reading teachers must have 24 hours or more of reading instruction and must pass a reading-specific exam to become certified. They are better versed in research-based interventions, utilizing data and reading-specific strategies, according to district officials.

Reading teachers will be able to plan and run data meetings, serve as a development resource for the district and better communicate with parents, among other tasks. 

The district will employ half the number of reading teachers as it had reading paraprofesionals because of both the teachers' training and salary. A teacher makes roughly twice what a paraprofessional makes, Hawks said. 

Supported ed instructional paraprofessionals (district-wide)

Only elementary schools will be affected by the reading changes announced above. Paraprofessionals from all district levels could be dismissed under proposed changes to the supported ed instructional program. 

As with reading, the district wants more certified teachers, not paraprofessionals, working with students. Students need more "direct instruction from specialized staff members trained in instructional strategies in order to close the achievement gap and to reach these rigorous standards," according to board documents.

In an initial proposal, the district would cut 82 classified employees and add 40 certified employees, according to board documents. These numbers are not final.

Certified teaching dismissals

At least nine certified teachers will also be dismissed from the district because there are more certified teachers than positions to fill for the 2013-2014 school year. 

Who is dismissed is based on certification and performance evaluation ratings, followed by seniority. 

School board, community reaction 

School board member Jim Curran requested to see the data referred to above before the school board makes a decision.

Two women addressed the board about the changes. Both said they were considering sending their children to private school. 

A representative from the American Federation of Teachers said having more bodies in a classroom is valuable to address the needs of all students. 

She also warned that what appears on paper is not always what will be seen in practice. The reduction is something A.F.T. was "very concerned about...because it is displacing people. They're losing their livelihood." 

The school board will vote on the proposed reduction in force at its next board meeting on March 25. 

BHS Mom March 12, 2013 at 09:45 PM
It's not that bad of start. I would have preferred that they started with the bloated Administration staff, then move onto the Aides and finally the under-performing Teachers. That would be best for the Students.
jen hamilton March 13, 2013 at 03:29 AM
No comment. Too bad many people will be losing their jobs and adding to the already high unemployment rate in the area alone not to mention state unemployment. People do this job because they are dedicated to the children they service not because they make a wage they can survive off of!
Bahama March 13, 2013 at 01:02 PM
anonymous I feel very sad and tremendously concerned for the special needs children caught up in this travesty. Paraprofessionals do not have to spend time doing grades, making lesson plans, or taking care of the many paperwork related duties that a teacher must attend to. Therefore, our ONLY concern is working with our students in the classroom to see that their individual needs are met, and that learning is facilitated. I know this, because I have been a teaching assistant in this district for over nine years. What a shame that the people making these decisions don't spend some time in the actual classrooms to how invaluable we are. I am glad that I do not have a child in the Special Needs program, as I would definitely be sending them to a private school next year! Parents of these students should be letting their school board know that they DO NOT agree with this plan.
Mad as he** March 13, 2013 at 09:38 PM
I agree with you 100% Bahama. I have a child in one of the VVSD high schools. My child does not have an IEP. My child is failing in classes that have two teachers...that's working very well! I cannot afford a private school. My child is suffering because of this. Aides are needed in the classrooms. Get rid of them and many other children will suffer too!
Kristine Neumann March 16, 2013 at 09:47 PM
I'm in agreement with you 100%. How much money does the Superintendent make? How much do the principals make? Asst. principals? Getting rid of bloated adminstration jobs is long overdue.
Sharon Topping Capell March 16, 2013 at 10:15 PM
This is the worst thing this district can do! I know a lot of teacher aides in this district who have been working with children in these schools for 12 or more years!! They are WONDERFUL aides and I have seen many children excel with their help!!! Just because these amazing people aren't holding a piece of paper it means they aren't good enough to do the job they have done for years!!!! Nice job making all of these wonderful staff members feel inadeqate!!! BAD MOVE!!!! Oh, and one question...are you going to be paying the certified teachers the same as the aides were making???? They sure weren't doing it for the money...they were there for the kids!
resident April 05, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Many of the aids being kicked to the curb to make room for "qualified" staff spent their college years raising their children. Shame on them. Local residents who have spent years working with students alongside teachers. Now all of the sudden its the aids fault. Really, that's like blaming the gas station attendant for the price of gas. What is really going on here ? You have spit on every employee in the district that does not have a college degree. Maybe if the board would vote to give everyone a $60,000.00 tuition bonus like they gave you they would go get their degree. Probably not they were content helping teachers teach.
resident April 05, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Did not mean to comment on your comment, sorry

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