Lafayette cuts Child Study Team secretary position to 10 months

Previously 12-month position cut to 10 months

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The Lafayette Township School District Board of Education approved a 10-month contract for Child Study Team Secretary Kathleen Cullen after eliminating her 12-month position for the 2014-15 school year.

The cut comes after Astor was forced to eliminate from the entire budget line, including administration salary and the elimination of four part-time paraprofessionals.

“I have the utmost respect for the job Kathleen performs but cuts needed to be made,” Astor said.

With nearly 12 members of the public present, including Lafayette School’s psychologist, case managers and teachers, Cullen voiced her concerns and grief over the decision.

“Even though my workload has grown instead of shrunk, you felt this was the place to take (money) from?” questioned Cullen.

Cullen will receive an additional one month’s salary for work that may be required for her to complete the duties of the position that will run from July 1-15 and August 16-31.

School Board President Andy Frye read two letters that had been sent to the board from members of the Child Study Team voicing their concerns with meeting all requirements set forth.

“We are writing this letter to provide essential information regarding the special education requirements that are at risk of not being met that is directly related to the infrastructure in the Child Study Team … Mrs. Cullen’s hours being reduced impacts on coordination of meetings and paperwork that needs to be completed,” the letter read.

A meeting was set amongst board members, administration, and school psychologist Barbara McIntyre as to the fears expressed in the letter.

“There are concerns from this letter, but Mr. Astor and Barbara assured me that they will work together to get things done within the time allotted,” Frye said.

Two days later, however, McIntyre wrote another letter to the board that articulated a sense of disconnect. Reiterating her concerns over the value of open communication over current restrictions that interfere with the Child Study Team's ability to satisfy new, but also existing responsibilities.

Members of the Child Study Team and McIntyre were present during the board meeting and vocally expressed their dissatisfaction.

“It is very frustrating to hear that all these needs are listed and the needs have increased," McIntyre said. "You keep cutting special education when our numbers are going up."

The decision wasn’t an easy one, as Astor asserts cuts needed to be made due to out-of-district placement costs, as well as the capping of the School Choice Program. A lottery was held because there were more applicants than spots. Funds also were transferred from the surplus line in order to avoid more staff reduction.

“If we didn’t have budgetary restrictions, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Astor said.

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